Plastic Surgery = Female Genital Mutilation?

Marie Clare has an interesting interview with Marge Berer, editor of the reproductive health publication, Reproductive Health Matters, in which Berer admits she would like to see cosmetic surgery for women banned.

In the interview, Berer makes the link between the newest form of cosmetic surgery in this country for women – labiaplasty – and the cultural/religious tradition of female genital mutilation (FGM) in countries throughout Africa and the Middle East. 

Why are women in this country opting for surgery on their genitals?

Berer says, "We’re talking about women feeling sexually inadequate and seeing this
as a way to beautify themselves-or at least that’s how it’s being sold
to them. I find the whole thing unethical on the part of the doctors."

You may be asking yourself at this point how Berer can make the connection between FGM, a practice forced upon young girls and young women, and voluntary cosmetic surgery? According to Berer, the focus shouldn’t be on the "voluntary" nature but on the reasons why women feel they need this kind of surgery.

Societal pressure makes mothers and grandmothers in other cultures put their daughters through FGM, and I believe societal pressure here of a different kind is making young women think they should have their labia cut off. The irony is that at a time when a woman’s right to express her sexuality has never been greater, young women are choosing to be mutilated. And some advertising genius called it "cosmetic surgery" to sell it to them. 

And it is not unreasonable for women’s rights and health advocates in this country to question the impetus for why female genital mutilation in a faraway land consumes our attention and outrage, while girls as young as 11, 12 and 13 years old in our own country are mutilating their own bodies in deference to societal beauty standards.  Is there a difference? 

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    the New View Campaign is hitting the streets in NYC to protest genital cosmetic surgery. We posted in our news blog about cosmetic vaginal surgery protests and the fact that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have come out against these unregulated surgeries.

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      Many surgeons come to me to receive training on how I perform these procedures. Since I have developed a good amount of expertise over the past 12 years, I feel my techniques are the gold standard of care.

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    Thank you for posting. I had no idea this was happening but I would like to learn more about the movement gaining ground in opposition to these kinds of cosmetic surgeries. I’ll check out the campaign!


    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

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    Hi! I’m glad someone else has made the connection between FGC and plastic surgery. Read my thoughts:

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    Very nice post thanks !

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    Thanks for posting. I do not know anything about this genital surgeries until I read your article. Good luck on your campaign!

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    Having performed dozens of these over the past ten years (reductions only) and written in the medical literature on the topic, I have had positive experiences here. Women are overwhelmingly happy after this surgery. Why would anyone deny them that?

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    I don’t know why some people want to see cosmetic surgery banned. In this regard, vaginal plastic surgery is specially being targeted. The people who are getting this done are usally who have the money, are sexually active and have mutually decide to have a tighter one to enjoy their sex lives. It’s nothing bad, the surgery does put in a sense of higher self esteem in you and has its effects on your partner as well. There are many happy couples, who have rekindled fire into their dead sex lives with this surgery on the female.

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    How does this practice affect you personally? Arent women very private about not talking about this surgery? Wanting to take care of your looks is not a bad thing. This is the USA where all sorts of crazy things are allowed, as long as you have money it seems.

    Can you consider it mutulation if it is being done by doctors who consider all of the necessary precautions as to not hurt the woman? Making someting look better is not mutulation, is it?

    At any rate, great article. Targeted Email Advertising