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I've been buying a lot of magazines lately - stuff to read at work mostly, since I'm not able to access most internet sites from work due to privacy issues. Anyway, I typically get Oprah's magazine - O, Marie Claire, Martha Stewart Living, and In Style. Nothing too challenging, but entertaining and sometimes interesting. So imagine my surprise when I find in the December issues of two of those magazines, O and Marie Claire, articles about cosmetic surgery on female genitalia.

O magazine asks, "Is NOTHING Sacred? The newest rejuvenation treatments target...'down there'", while Marie Claire goes a slightly different direction by asking, "Sex Crimes: Should cosmetic surgery on your lady parts be banned?" From O:

Last year doctors in the United States performed just over 4,500 "vaginal rejuvenation" procedures - not many compared with almost 400,000 breast augmentations and some 450,000 liposuctions, but enough to prompt the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to issue a statement about "the lack of data supporting the effectiveness of these procedures as well as their potential complications, including infection, altered sensation, pain, and scarring."

Now, I have to say that I've heard about this before this month. Jenna Jameson had a vaginoplasty in 2007. Channel 4 (in the UK) aired a program called The Perfect Vagina this summer. This summer I also bookmarked Vagina Anxiety: The Rise of the Labialplasty - which referenced several other media mentions of this "new" plastic surgery obsession - and which led me to this "designer vaginas" rant. In other words, this diary was almost written this summer, but I was overwhelmed by unpacking from a move and finding/starting a new job and of course, by working to elect Barack Obama (Yes we did! I'm still jumping up and down about that), and so it wasn't until I came across these two articles that I remembered all the links I'd set aside this summer on the same issue. I think it's high time we ask - WTF?! Who does this? Why do they do it? And...do we have any business in trying to stop them? If so, how?

Marge Berer, editor of Reproductive Health Matters was interviewed for the Marie Claire piece. She believes labiaplasty is attractive to some women because they fear that their own labia are too large or abnormally shaped when compared with those they've seen on websites and in magazines. Berer also says that these procedures constituted female genital mutilation and that it should be banned:

The definition of FGM, according to the World Health Organization, includes any cutting of the labia, as well as part or all of the clitoris. It is much more severe than what is being done by these plastic surgeons. But in all cultures, using a surgical procedure to conform to an external definition of what a woman's genitals are supposed to look like is mutilation.

I don't watch Dr. 90210 because I would probably vomit if I did, but apparently the tv show has featured a mother bringing in her teenage daughter because her outer labia was "too big". This guy must be quite the doctor! Check out the amazing things he can do for your vag:

At his practice in Beverly Hills, labiaplasty surgeon Dr. Rey can reduce the labia to a more comfortable size, while ensuring minimal scarring. A more youthful vaginal appearance, as well as comfortable physical activity, is the pleasing result.

There's even a link to view before and after photos (do I really need to tell you the link may not be safe for work?)- looks to me like a lot of slicing goes into this surgery. A lot of unnecessary slicing.

O takes a slightly different approach in their discussion. They basically discuss the issue by talking about a "medspa" in NYC called Phit (Pelvic Health Integrated Techniques). This is a facility that promotes itself by celebrating "pelvic fitness" on the one hand (Kegel and other strength exercises to increase sexual pleasure and bladder control), and pelvic improvements on the other, from laser treatments to smooth cellulite and the labia, labiaplasty - described as "an operation to "recontour" the inner labia", and tightening of the vaginal muscles.

I'll be a little bit more blunt. Here's the message: apparently your vag isn't tight enough anymore now that you're older and especially after you've given birth. And according to...someone...you'd better tighten that shit up or you'll be persona non grata. I mean, because everybody's seen your vag and is judging your worth based on the looks, right?

The Perfect Vagina program I linked to above notes that vaginal cosmetic surgery is the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the United Kingdom. There's a link to a poll (it's closed - no PBS poll repeats here, so don't bother) that has 43% of respondents indicating that they've thought about vaginal cosmetic surgery - over 4000 women. Where is this desire coming from? Have these women forgotten that nearly every photo they're seeing online or in a magazine has been photo-shopped to someone's idea of perfection - typically a man's idea of perfection.

When I was in school many years ago I read Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, by Laura Mulvey. In this article, Mulvey discusses the "male gaze":

In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female form which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness. Woman displayed as sexual object is the leit-motif of erotic spectacle: from pin-ups to striptease, from Ziegfeld to Busby Berkeley, she holds the look, plays to and signifies male desire. Mainstream film neatly combined spectacie and narrative. (Note, however, how the musical song-and-dance numbers break the flow of the diegesis.) The presence of woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film, , yet her visual presence tends to work against the development of a story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation. This alien presence then has to be integrated into cohesion with the narrative. As Budd Boetticher has put it:

"What counts is what the heroine provokes, or rather what she represents. She is the one, or rather the love or fear she inspires in the hero, or else the concern he feels for her, who makes him act the way he does. In herself the woman has not the slightest importance."

More detail for those of you who want it, at Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog.

"I can feel myself under the gaze of someone whose eyes I do not see, not even discern. All that is necessary is for something to signify to me that there may be others there. This window, if it gets a bit dark, and if I have reasons for thinking that there is someone behind it, is straight-away a gaze". - Jacques Lacan

The gaze is about power. It has been suggested that heterosexual men are immune to the gaze. I argued in a paper or two that while this may have once been true, it wasn't anymore. There are plenty of heterosexual men who are now using a gaze to look back at themselves and judge- and I don't think it's shocking to note that this gaze seems to spread as media focus on the perfect male body and personality increases. I do believe women are still the larger victims of this gaze.

Religious and cultural beliefs, as well as societal pressure have contributed to Female Genital Mutilation around the world - and even in the United States.

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • In Africa, about three million girls are at risk for FGM annually.
  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
  • It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
  • FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

The procedures being done here in the United States are cosmetic. They are not medically necessary. How these procedures aren't already illegal in the United States is beyond me - and really, if these procedures aren't illegal, then doesn't that make it easier for those promoting FGM to achieve legality? What kind of mother brings her teenage daughter to a doctor and says, "make her outer labia smaller, it's too big"? How often is this happening?

Isn't it time we learn to love ALL of ourselves? We can't expect to have healthy sex lives otherwise.

Top Tips to Love Your Vagina

  1. Take out a mirror and look at yourself
  1. See if you can recognise all the parts of your genitals – the outer lips, the inner lips, the clitoris, the hood, the entrance to vagina...
  1. Acknowledge that you may not be like the pictures in all the anatomy books but everyone is different. You are normal just the way you are.
  1. Close your eyes and visualise your genitals as the most beautiful flower in the garden, imagine that your lips are the petals of this flower and, when you open your eyes, gently touch your labia lips with your fingertips as you would touch the petals of the flower.
  1. Create a positive statement as a daily affirmation whenever you have negative feeling about your vagina. For example, "I am perfect just the way I am’.

Remember everyone is different... and not just in the shape of their face but also in their genitals. No-one has the perfect vagina, they are all different and perfect in their own way.

So by getting to know and accept your genitals you will increase the potential for pleasure and orgasm and all-round sense of wellbeing.

Originally posted to Elise on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:33 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I'm with you (8+ / 0-)

      I don't want surgery unless it's necessary, but on my genitalia?  No way!

      We finally got rid of those commercials for "feminine hygiene products" designed to make women think they're dirty down there.  Now we have to worry about what it looks like?  Now we've got brazilian waxing, anal bleaching and vaginal surgery.  Can't we catch a break?

      Let our new progressive era begin!

      by Unstable Isotope on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:51:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Boys do it too (4+ / 0-)

        More and more men are getting Brazilians and anal bleaching, well we lack the required equipment for vaginal surgery.  

        •  I am SOOOO glad that... (5+ / 0-)

          ...oh shit!  I've forgotten his username!!  I'm getting senile.  But you know who I mean...a certain diarist who obsessed about a certain surgical procedure performed on men's genitalia...Anyway, I am SOOO glad he's not here to jump in on this!

          The adults are back in charge.

          by DebtorsPrison on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:07:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why exactly? (0+ / 0-)

            What would be wrong with that?

            •  he was boring and repetitive. (0+ / 0-)

              also people of certain faiths found his message somewhat offensive.

              though i should note that a friend of mine, of one of those faiths, once dismissed the practice as barbarism.

              I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

              by UntimelyRippd on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 12:42:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I wish I knew who you were talking about. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elise, Corwin Weber

            I imagine we are talking circumcision.  If it is some other procedure, then I'm totally in the dark.  

            •  A while back..... (5+ / 0-)

              ....there was a poster named RealityBias who's main issue was being opposed to circumcision.  He was eventually chased off for some reason.

              •  He kept repeating the same (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sberel, Corwin Weber

                diaries, essentially.  And, his claims of circumcision=mutilation went rather far.

                "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                by wader on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:38:17 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  He got a bit passionate from time to time.... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wader

                  ...but he was hardly the only passionate single-issue poster on this community.

                  •  Sure, though his content seemed to rarely vary (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Corwin Weber

                    and, he didn't seem to be terribly conversational.  Merely kept attempting to defend his assertions, without regard to logic being tossed his way.  It sometimes felt like an obsessive, trolling event.

                    Not productive or useful, after the first few diaries, IMHO.

                    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                    by wader on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:00:03 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not productive or useful, no..... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DebtorsPrison, wader

                      ...nor unique to him.

                      And if you remember RealityBias, you go ahead and tell us with a straight face that if this diary were about men that it wouldn't have already degenerated into a string of dick jokes.

                      •  I thought we were all dicks, (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        sberel, Corwin Weber

                        here.

                        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                        by wader on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:06:53 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Depends on who you ask, I suppose. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Jay C, wader

                          But the sheer number of them at the time did leave an impression.

                          I can't even bring myself to be enough of an asshole to make jokes about FGM, nor do I think anybody would laugh if I did.

                          •  I've laughed at cancer jokes - (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            DebtorsPrison, Corwin Weber

                            my black humor meter runs pretty high.  My Mom died of complications from breast cancer.

                            Maybe I shouldn't have been an early reader of alt.tasteless.

                            IMHO, RealityBias was attempting, in part, to create concern about the common practice of male circumcisions by equating its impact to procedures such as FGM - i.e., mutilation of a minor, without their consent.  I think many people in those diaries weren't being dicks about what was perceived as a serious point in his diary (unlike this diary's sober mention of FGM), but instead were mocking the comparison of the two and the "threat" to males that he had presented.  I recall alot of the mocking coming from males who were circumsized and obviously felt that they could post from experience: it was not a mutilating event for them, so wtf?

                            I felt his initial writings had some valid points to make, but he began to sound a bit too driven by unsubstantiated points in many eyes, without the ability to respond fruitfully in the diaries.

                            e.g.,

                            http://www.dailykos.com/...

                            . . .
                            C) Involuntary non-therapeutic circumcision is a serious violation of an individual's right to genital integrity
                            D) Americans, on the whole, are strangely quiet on the issue
                            . . .

                            It's not just that he never gave up on these assertions, it's that his forward attempts to prove them as being significant health or personal rights problems never really panned out, IMHO - especially in contrast to the self-proclaimed, circumsized posters who expressed that these points sounded like victimization bunk.

                            There is definitely a consideration about what any surgery for a non-consenting minor may entail for their lives, going forward.  His points, as presented, were not convincing to many people.  Yet, he repeated them in over thirty diaries.  I suppose that people began to eventually discount his assertions with increasing frustration over time, which led to the noisy debacle that ended his posting under that alias on DKos.

                            Personally, I didn't go out of my way to support the joshing or mocking, in this case.  But, that was just my choice and didn't make me any better than others.

                            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                            by wader on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:42:59 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not going to argue the effectiveness..... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            wader, Demena

                            ....although I would suggest that if people had actually talked to him instead of pushing his buttons they might have been considerably more effective.  People decided the latter was more fun, and since it involved penises this automatically made it something to joke about rather than take the issue with any degree of seriousness, regardless of whether the poster himself deserved any or not.

                            Aside from that, the problem with his single mindedness keeps getting mentioned, but how many posters do we have here who rarely post anything if it doesn't involve bashing Israel?  Or any number of other subjects?  Hell, my own diary count is mostly about the housing meltdown.  (Granted, my comment history is considerably more varied than that.)

                          •  Single-mindedness with little willingness to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Corwin Weber

                            accommodate other poster perspectives, continually pushing his unique points that a majority of others overwhelmingly expressed - from their own experiences - were without merit, etc.  Those seemed the primary problems with his "focused interest" as I saw it.  Execution, not just content.

                            I agree there was tangential noise related the subject matter, but felt at the time it was due to people mocking the poster related to a generally shared perception (see my points above) which quickly took hold.

                            Beyond that, I can't say - I was mostly an observer, interested in his proffered notions at first, then personally turned off by some of his seemingly more specious (and, sometimes extreme) claims used to support them.  As a circumcized male, I attempted to put myself into the shoes he offered, but it's not just that they didn't fit - there were more shoes than I had feet attached to my legs.

                            Your diary or comment history doesn't seem to reveal a lack of consideration for the perspectives of other posters, their points be damned (so to speak).

                            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                            by wader on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:06:42 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not sure you are being entirely fair. (0+ / 0-)

                            Single-mindedness with little willingness to accommodate other poster perspectives, continually pushing his unique points that a majority of others overwhelmingly expressed - from their own experiences - were without merit, etc

                            .

                            When another poster's 'perspective' is directly contrary and negates his arguments, trivialises them then I think some reaction can be expected.

                            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                            by Demena on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:51:33 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not sure what "reaction" you infer (0+ / 0-)

                            Though, if you mean that the original poster may become defensive or harden their original posture, I can understand that.  However, this was more of a proactive defense coupled with a similar offense that I'm describing.

                            In this case, I was describing the discussions between seemingly fair-minded posters on the subject matter vs. those who came in to play or simply demean.  After the 20th diary with the same claims that other posters find less than supportable, posters reading those diaries in repeated disbelief might also be expected to "react" accordingly, I would think.

                            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                            by wader on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 06:49:45 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  Similarly, (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wader, kurt, Quincy Woo

                  equating voluntary 'cosmetic' surgery in the genital region with culturally mandated, but involuntary, non-professionally done clitoridectomies, et al, is apples to oranges.

                  Never get the mothers too angry.

                  by pvlb on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:54:26 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Reality bias nt (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kilgore2345

              Support the troops (for real)! write to any soldier

              by sberel on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:07:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  RealityBias (5+ / 0-)
            Would have fun with this :)

            Hey you, dont tell me theres no hope at all Together we stand, divided we fall.

            by marcvstraianvs on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:17:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  fuck that dude (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elise, KenBee

            It takes a special kind of asshole to take a serious issue and beat it to death so hard that when it comes up in context, the first person to bring it up brings it up as "glad that guy isn't here anymore."

            Good fucking riddance.

          •  hehehehe (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Floja Roja

            i DO remember the username. But I won't remind you if nobody else has.

          •  Hmmm, for a while it was done automatically (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rserven

            right after birth without even asking the parents. They had to know beforehand to specifically request to opt out of the policy to circumcise ALL baby boys... I'm sure that informed choice is what we all support... right? (but Mr. & Mrs. Smith your son will be embarrassed in the shower in Gym class when they don't fit in with all the others who we have automatically given a one-way flesh clip/shave)

            As much as I hate "Genital mutilation" in any form, (where does mutilation end and surgical procedure begin? Where is the boundary and who defines it?) I do believe that adults can choose what they want and to define something for themselves as not mutilation. There are many people who feel strongly that frivolous plastic surgery often linked to self-image problems should be dissuaded and at least be preceded by thorough counseling etc. BUT in the end free choice is what we are all about right? There are a very small number of women who have unusual and awkward external genitalia and if so they should be free to choose procedures to correct things. (elephantiasis of labia etc.) I used to shelve books at the National Library of Medicine many years ago...did a lot of reading... believe me there are some medical reasons as well as unusual cosmetic issues out there.

            Do we have the right to draw a line for any adult who is legally sane as to what surgery is not allowed because we think it should not be allowed? Of course on the other hand how do you identify women who's culture does not allow them to personally decide these kinds of things and who therefore will not refuse this type of surgery even if they don't want it. She will sign the forms and pretend it is not under duress. But that scenario should not prevent others who have reasonable requests for genital surgery. We allow "Mutilation" of sex change patients. I think mutilation is more consistent with an operation on a minor in a mud hut by a non medical person using non-sterile methods. Somewhere there is a line but who is going to say where it is supposed to be?

            Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

            by IreGyre on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 05:09:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Spam Much? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Goldfish

          No doubt you've encountered offers for a male equivalent though.

        •  Boys get it without consenting to it (0+ / 0-)

          While the issues this raises about gender and sexuality are intriguing, it's hard to really get too worked up over this when the superfluous surgical alteration of male gentiles is widely practiced without a raised eye-brow.

    •  I have a strict (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DebtorsPrison, wader, Elise, JaciCee, Femlaw, FeDhu

      no-sharp-objects-applied-to-genitals policy myself, lol.  I want all nerve endings & muscles as intact as possible.

      Seriously, who the hell wants to deal with scarring & [unpleasant] sensitivity in a place so few see anyway?- human genitals are funny-looking IMO, but that's okay because they're meant to be more functional than pretty.

      "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. -Glenn Greenwald

      by latts on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:56:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  All Well & Good (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel, Quincy Woo

      While knives may not belong anywhere near your vag. You do not seem to have provided a convincing argument for criminalizing elective surgeries.

    •  I honestly don't know why you care so much. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jay C, IreGyre

      Who cares what women want to do to their bodies? So many people live with such internalized shame over parts of themselves that they don't like that when they do get it fixed they feel a lot better. What is wrong with that? How is this any different than a nose or breast job? Or do you disapprove of all cosmetic surgery?

      •  I don't approve or disapprove. (5+ / 0-)

        If someone is getting plastic surgery for their own personal happiness, great. Have at it. But when it's all about making oneself prettier or more perfect through someone else's vision of those things - is that really the kind of pressure we want to put on people? I certainly don't.

        •  I guess I agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jay C

          But these days it seems to be nearly impossible for most people to separate what their vision is of themselves from what they think society's vision is of who they should be.

        •  What's your solution? (0+ / 0-)

          Make everyone wear burqas and have sex through the sheets?  because guess what? Men and women both have a conception of what is attractive.  That conception may change over time, but it is there.  And guess what, to the extent you wish to attract opposite sex, you have to be within that conception.  (Of course there are exceptions, but as a basic idea).  And if that puts too much pressure on you, well, that sucks, but that's life.

          •  Can you read? (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not sure you can.

            •  I can read (0+ / 0-)

              I don't understand the point.  You don't want women to do something simply to satisfy someone else's concept of attractiveness.  Fine.  I am all for choices.  But the choice is that to the extent your partner's concept of attractiveness is not satisfied, he or she may stop finding you attractive.  With all the relevant consequences.

              •  Well, if a relationship is based in (0+ / 0-)

                just attractiveness, is it really a healthy one?

                I want people to have self esteem and make decisions for themselves - if that involves labiaplasty - you go girl, but if the decision is about hoping to impress some stranger or about emulating photoshopped photos, is that really the societal pressure we want to be applying?

                I'm not suggesting we ban a procedure...I'm suggesting we think about the consequences of our actions when we celebrate and promote photoshopped pictures as images of perfection.

                •  First of all, who said (0+ / 0-)

                  anything about "just attractiveness?"  But attractiveness does play a role, no?  Second, is it really up to you to decide which relationships are and which are not "worthy?"

                  I do not view "photoshopped pictures" as any more of a "pressure" than any other image that is out there in the public's eye.  And yes, attractiveness matters.  When was the last time we had a bald President?  Or a fat one?  Or someone under 5'11"?  

              •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

                I'm having no trouble at all.  She thinks it's weird and disturbing that women are choosing to get their vaginas sliced up (possibly resulting in damage to sensitivity) to satisfy some weird notion of what a "pretty" vagina looks like.  I didn't note that she offered a "solution".  So what?

                "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Ghandi

                by Triscula on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 03:13:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  For some reason this comment jogged loose (0+ / 0-)

            something my Aunt said once "if churches really wanted people to stop having sex they would make everyone go naked" and boy did that surprise me when she said that cause she didn't talk about stuff like that.

        •  Posted this downthread (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elise

          But it bares repeating...

          Where is this conception of vaginal perfection coming from? The easy answer is porn, but if I were to go google up six different pornographic images of women, I could probably show you about that many different versions of what a vagina looks like. Different women just aran't built similar enough down there to allow for porn produces to be picky about this.

          Even from the sources you cite in the diary, the people talking up surgery are suggesting contrary modifications (outer labia bigger vs. inner labia smaller).

          So where then is this all coming from?

    •  I went to college with Eve Ensler (5+ / 0-)

      'nuf said.  Thank you, Elise.

      Thank you, Feeding America bloggers!

      by noweasels on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:21:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The part of this I don't get... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, Floja Roja, Triscula

      Is where this idea of the "perfect" vagina is coming from? Have you looked at much porno? There's no real commonality from woman to woman in terms of the appearance of their vagina. And I don't know of any preference among men for any one "look," I think that's a pretty individual thing.

      So what's the deal? Where are these woman getting their ideas of what their vagina is "supposed" to look like?

    •  holy shit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, Floja Roja

      so now there's just one more body part that I have to worry about being inadequate and possibly requiring some fixing up. No thanks.

      A friend of mine who is in a nursing program right now commented to me about female genital mutilation bc we've got a big immigrant population that actually practices it... occasionally you get a woman in the L&D unit delivering a baby who is entirely SEWN UP. Once she's given birth the hospital does not re-sew her up and often the family tries to get that taken care of either here (which is illegal) or by shipping the poor woman back to Africa to have it done there.

    •  Episiotomy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise

      Ablington is a scab at the bending factory. Relentless!

      by ablington on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 06:32:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ouch... (0+ / 0-)

        ouch ouch ouch.

        I'm definitely going to need a lot of drugs for that experience. Like...just put me to sleep completely and wake me up when it's all over and that baby is cleaned up.

        Maybe in a few years I'll be able to stomach this a bit better...

  •  Can we get some visual aids to help us (10+ / 0-)

    better understand the issue?

    "you ought to be ashamed of yourself, person who loves to tell your 'hat story' with OPOL. Grow up."

    by DemocraticLuntz on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:35:09 PM PST

  •  Knives for veggies , not vaggies. - And they are (13+ / 0-)

    all perfect anyway , as far as I know.

  •  Also, I think it's only fair that you ladies (10+ / 0-)

    should start having society sell you something to improve you down there

    We got this and this on the TV;

    then in our inboxes we get this:

    How tto make your penis strong for long time?
    We know: CLICK HERE

    Their hands. Dhatri stood, bow in hand, and jaya mandara,
    inhabited by the yakshas, manibhadra the way of all creatures.
    is not this an insult at length subsided, and the presiding
    officer where the men had had to tear bushes from among.

    The world's proven Male enlargement formula - endorsed by healthcare professionals worldwide: POWER Gain+ + Used by thousands of Men,

    POWER Gain+ has been proven to add inches to the male package, as well as thicken and improve the muscular appearance of your organ.  Try it today.

    "you ought to be ashamed of yourself, person who loves to tell your 'hat story' with OPOL. Grow up."

    by DemocraticLuntz on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:39:21 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the diary (6+ / 0-)

    about this most disturbing trend :(

  •  I read a few years ago (13+ / 0-)

    about Japanese women getting hymen repair so they could be "virgins" on their wedding night.  I don't get this one or the cosmetic surgery.  

    It seems that once someone is that close, you can be honest.  

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:40:00 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the vagina monologue. (17+ / 0-)

    Seriously, though: "a more youthful vaginal appearance"?????  In my long and ever-growing list of worries, this one won't keep me up at night.

    "Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment." --Rumi

    by GreenMtnState on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:40:11 PM PST

  •  Catchy title. (8+ / 0-)

    :-)

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:43:18 PM PST

  •  Would Roe protect a right to vaginoplasty? (11+ / 0-)

    They're medical procedures that a woman and a doctor can agree to.  That was the right at stake in Roe: not a right to abortion per se, but the right to privacy within the doctor / patient relationship.

    Seemed like a perverse reversal, so since Lacan came up it seemed appropriate to note.

    We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

    by burrow owl on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:44:00 PM PST

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, mijita

      I don't see any good reason this is anyone's business.

      There is no Them, there is only US. -Lisa Williams

      by DSinIA on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:49:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      burrow owl, sberel, Elise, Quincy Woo

      Can't imagine doing it myself (save some sort of medical problem some ways down the road) but I've seen friends have plastic surgery and it being something they wanted and enjoyed.

      I guess I'm thinking about this in a way as like my monthly waxing.  I do it for me because I like how it looks and feels.  I don't feel like anyone else even has a right to an opinion.

      the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

      by mijita on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:54:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, that's silly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mijita, sberel

        of course you care about people's opinions when you wax; you just said you care about how it looks.

        What you don't need is society pressuring you about it, one way or the other. Not unlike with tats or piercings (or high heels, or nylons, or dresses). None of any of this should, for example, affect whether you can get a job.

        "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

        by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:19:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I like how I look and feel waxed (6+ / 0-)

          but I started doing it when NO ONE but me saw it or felt it.  That was and is the point -- it's all about me.    

          And yes, we agree -- no one should feel s/he has conform to social pressure.  But it cuts both ways -- they also shouldn't feel they can't do something because it's somehow "wrong" to modify this or that on their own body.

          the third eye does not weep. it knows. Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

          by mijita on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:44:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  absolutely (0+ / 0-)

            everyone to his or own fetish. Long as you don't scare the horses.

            This diary isn't about it being wrong to do things, and I'm sorry Elise is getting hammered some that way (although it's certainly stirred up a lot of interesting dialogue). Surgery is a little different as it has much higher risks involved. As I wrote downthread, I think cosmetic labial surgery is much more similar to plastic surgery for tits or noses than anything else, including waxing and gender reassignment surgery both.

            Much of what straight women do to their bodies is motivated by wanting to be attractive to men. In a fair society, this diary wouldn't have even been written. This is not a fair society. We are still run primarily by (white) men. Women still make less than men, women still comprise most of the hookers and the strippers, and the people who get raped.

            That, IMHO, is what this diary is really about; one aspect of how women adapt to living in a society where they are so oppressed by men, and feel so driven to be accepted by men, protected by men, protected from other men.

            I have no particular reason to believe any of this applies to you. You could be the next best thing in independent women, and if so, all the power in the world to you.

            "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

            by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:18:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  This is why I learned at a young age (19+ / 0-)

    to avoid womens magazines like the plague. They can be fun, but they invariably make me feel like crap. Of all the things to feel insecure about...

    I have nothing but pity for the poor teenager whose mother takes her to a plastic surgeon to mutilate her labia. Actually, I feel pit for the mother as well: it must be hard going through life with that degree of self-loathing.

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:44:52 PM PST

    •  I don't know if it was the episode in question... (0+ / 0-)

      My G/F used to watch Dr. 90210.

      I remember a teenager getting the procedure done because her labia was larger than the norm and causing her discomfort in later puberty.

      I DO recall another episode of a woman who got the procedure done because sex was painful for her because of the size of her inner labia.

  •  Small breasts are nice , as are large ones. (17+ / 0-)

    Skinny women, somewhat chubby women , tall women , short women, average height women. Downright homely women can be totally bewitching. Qualities of smiles , senses of humor , and quirks of intellect all can make a woman as great a delight to know and have as a friend , whether lovers or not , as anything a beauty queen has. And much more interesting and loveable than shallow looks that are boring after a three day weekend.Our librarians are mostly middleaged , larger women , mostly maried as am I , and the knowledge and interests they have in their heads make them fascinating ladies. and they and I all would howl with mirth at the idea of lust among us.I'm very lucky in that the woman who has most entranced and semidomesticated me just happens to be pleasing to the eye.

  •  If fake breasts are fine, and nosejobs, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, dirkster42

    what's wrong with a little touch up of the cooter?  I mean, obviously women do it because men like it, and it'll make women happier about themselves.

  •  We got medicine for that (15+ / 0-)

    Anybody with that much anxiety needs medical attention a few feet further north than this.  Pathetic that the plastic surgical-industrial complex is trying to push their marketing this far.  

    Wouldn't those who insist on FGM in other countries also describe it as "cosmetic"?  I mean, you wouldn't want your daughter or wife going to her wedding bed looking all unimproved, would you?  Amazing how we judge others and not ourselves.

    Our long national nightmare is almost over. Congratulations and blessings to all.

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:49:05 PM PST

    •  There's not so much money to be made (7+ / 0-)

      in traditional forms of female genital mutilation. If Somalia had glitzy clinics with plastic surgeons from California, all would be well.

      The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

      by beltane on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:51:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Totally agree , Dallasdoc. Women worried (10+ / 0-)

      about things like that just need to hang out with better men.

    •  I don't think female genital cutting (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Dallasdoc, mieprowan

      is as much about "cosmetics", as in "looking pretty," as it is about being "clean" and "pure." A lot of women who believe in genital cutting refer to the dangerousness of the clitoris, which thus must be removed.

      The problem with moralizing over FGC is that it turns into a West-is-best narrative of shock over the Savage African Practice. It's important (for me) to come up with ways to be sensitively engaged, support local women's movements, but avoid Orientalizing dichotomies that do more harm than good.

      Watch the documentary "The Day I Will Never Forget" directed by the amazing Kim Longinotto for a truly sensitive, horrifying, moving take on female genital cutting. It's hard to watch, and not at all didactic. It's an important film (if graphic).

      Obama's doing it and you should too: Adopt your next pet.

      by Quincy Woo on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:10:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  if we're going to compare apples and oranges (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, Corwin Weber

        it is important to note that removal of the clitoris is not in the same ballpark as the matters discussed in this diary. They are more along the lines of circumcision (now that I think of it), of which I don't particularly approve either.

        I read an article about adult male circumcision once where one of the guys being interviewed said it was like going from color TV to black and white. A truly guy metaphor, but so telling.

        "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

        by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:30:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not comparable, no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mieprowan

          But the diarist explicitly compared them.

          The definition of FGM, according to the World Health Organization, includes any cutting of the labia, as well as part or all of the clitoris. ... But in all cultures, using a surgical procedure to conform to an external definition of what a woman's genitals are supposed to look like is mutilation.

          Female genital cutting almost always involves the partial or complete removal of the clitoris, and the diarist compared cosmetic surgery to FGC...

          As Sarah Palin once said, "I think it's relevant."

          Obama's doing it and you should too: Adopt your next pet.

          by Quincy Woo on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:36:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't compare them - Berer did... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mieprowan

            the woman interviewed by Marie Claire - important distinction.

          •  Elise quoted that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elise

            but what inspired her diary was considerations concerning the practice of cosmetic labial surgery.

            Genital cutting in, say, Africa is about clitoridectomies, you bet. It's apparently a judgment call as to whether labial surgery and circumcision are mutilations; I'll vote for yes in both cases. I'll also vote for the right of people to have this done, since, after all, ear piercing is a mutilation, along with bunches of other stuff people get cut.

            But, I will always object to anyone thinking they have to get themselves mutilated to get a job, or thinking they can't get a job if they do it, and I'll always object to women thinking they have to get themselves mutilated in order to get a husband, because everyone knows you ain't nothing without a man.

            "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

            by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:24:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  What kind of guy (13+ / 0-)

    Even cares about this?  Somehow, I doubt most guys care what shape the hole is, just as long as the hole is there!

  •  I'm trying to resist... (8+ / 0-)

    ...the urge to say I'm surprised you haven't considered getting reshaped into a big 'O', Elise, in honor of your favorite politician.

    Or maybe I just can't pull together quickly enough a pun about getting the big O...

    But seriously...I have heard about this before, and it just astounds me.  Great diary...you hit on so many of the aspects of how wrong this is.

    The adults are back in charge.

    by DebtorsPrison on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:50:15 PM PST

  •  As You Would Touch The Petals.. (5+ / 0-)

    The last time I touched the petals of a flower, I ripped it right off of the rose bush because I was fascinated with its leathery appearance.  I crushed it between my fingers.

    I would TOTALLY not treat any of my body parts like I did that poor rose petal.

  •  Thanks for the diary, Elise (11+ / 0-)

    While I've heard about the surgeries, I haven't read anything prior to your diary.  I only get The New Yorker and Cook's Illustrated.

    It is disturbing the amount of narcissism involved in all of this weirdness.  And then, the narcissism transmorgs into gross insecurity.  Granted, most folks are insecure about their appearance at one time or another but this compulsion for perfection is just creepy.

    I'm 58, never had children, just recently post menopausal -- and have a more active sex life than I did when I was in my late 20s (my wonder years were in the convent).  I have quit worrying about the droops and imperfections -- mainly because I have a partner who doesn't care.  

    So what happens when these perfect vaginas and clits don't provoke an orgasm?  Is that the next surgical fix?

  •  I wonder if the pretty doctor discounts buttock.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gloryous1, mieprowan

    ...augmentations if you'll settle for one of the "before" pictures?

  •  The female population of the United States (8+ / 0-)

    Is approximately 150 million.

    At 4500/year that makes the incidence of this practice three one-thousandths of one percent (.00003) of all women.

    In other words, 99.997% of women in the United States did not do this last year.  To put it another way, you'd have to put together a crowd of 100,000 women to have half a chance that 1 of those women has had this procedure.

    I gather that imported FGM is a more widespread and dangerous problem from every point of view.

  •  I get an awful creepy feeling... (11+ / 0-)

    ...about people calling genital modification "weirdness."

  •  How to get a lot of comments in your diary: (6+ / 0-)

    Include the words "vaginal rejuvenation"  :)

    "Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?" -El Guapo

    by NMDad on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:54:14 PM PST

  •  Nearly 60 YRs Old, I Have Never Seen Male Toilet (7+ / 0-)

    graffiti nor heard locker room talk about labia size.

    Some talk, no graffiti, about vaginal tightness.

    The point of the observation is to differentiate between cultural/gender thoughts and behavior, and market behavior.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 07:54:36 PM PST

  •  You want genital mutilation? (10+ / 0-)

    Perhaps you are ignorant of a very large industry that caters to male insecurity about their genitalia. There are doctors that will operate, even though the surgery runs a decent risk of deforming the genitalia. There are, of course, the seeming innocuous commercials about pills that offer "natural male enhancement....claiming millions of customers.

    There are also far darker elements. Guys that spend hours a day with pumps that create massive pressure and inflammation, that also risk permanent impotence and disfigurement. Some wear painful stretching devices all day. Others actually inject their genitalia with hormones, or even silicon, which is meant to permanently inflate either the penis or the scrotum. Talk about disfiguring. I saw one guy (a small, skinny guy -- not s surprise there) who would walk around the gym in biker shorts that barely supported his grotesquely swollen package. It may not be common, but I can say that I've sort of seen it -- and it's frightening.

    By comparison, the vaginal tightening surgery is a walk in the park...

    The problem in both cases, however, isn't getting to "know and accept" our own genitalia. That's the stuff of the Vagina Monologues, and women concerned with sexual repression. This is something else entirely -- ti's an obsession with sexuality and sexual attractiveness and sexual performance. Not for our own sake, but for our partner's sake. It is about the insecurity that we will be rejected because of our sexual inadequacy -- our inability to fully pleasure our partner.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:00:13 PM PST

  •  As a gay man - (6+ / 0-)

    I'm all for accepting our bodies, though I can't relate so much to the specifics here.  I did read an interesting bit in an anthology of Arab womens' writings about an African Islamic doctor who argued on the basis of the Qur'an that complete clitorectomy was a sin because it denied women sexual pleasure.  She clearly would have preferred to argue against any clitorectomy, but the mindset among the doctors she was training seems to have been pretty much set that it was a mandatory procedure, so she argued instead for cutting "a small piece."  Still sounds like a bad idea to me, but I guess some progress is better than none.  

    But the bit about the gaze reminded me of that beautiful turning point when we started seeing male bodies as objects of desire that Madison Ave. exploits to sell things - that Coke commercial from the 90s:

    Now, that I can relate to!

  •  In some cases, I think surgery is necessary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DebtorsPrison, tryptamine, mijita, Elise

    In some cases, such surgeries can help to reverse prior mutilation. I had a friend in college for whom sex was really painful. She seriously considered getting something done. Believe or not, some women get fat put in on top of the public bone because it is really painful (the fat pad shrinks with age, or so I have heard).

    On the other hand, if you are doing this because you think it will make you more attractive or because your SO wants it, that's an issue.

    As for a clit ring, etc. (not surgery, but it involves shop objects down there), it's your personal decision.

    Just sayin'

    Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

    by Edubabbler on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:04:46 PM PST

    •  I think this is all about personal choices... (3+ / 0-)

      my question is - how did that personal choice come about?

      If it's physical pain...I get that. If it's sex reassignment surgery...I get that.

      But...my vag doesn't look like that porn star pic I saw and so I'm going to go have surgery?? I don't get that.

      •  I know the example is less extreme..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise

        ....but have you looked into body building?

      •  So you don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

        So what?

        It's not your vagina, it's not your decision.

        The reasons don't matter, the procedure doesn't matter, nothing matters except this...

        It's none of your fucking business.

        Period.

        Full stop.

        If a woman wants to have half her labia cut off, or if I decide to hit myself in the nuts with a ball peen hammer, what business is it of yours?

        This is a non-issue, except for those who wish to control other people.

        --Shannon

        "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
        "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

        by Leftie Gunner on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:38:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So it's okay with you (0+ / 0-)

          for a mother or father to bring their daughter into a plastic surgeon and ask for FGM? Because according to the WHO definition - there's no legal difference. Or if a husband asks his wife to get the surgery so she more closely resembles a 12 year old because that's his real desire? She should do that and feel good about it?

          There are serious insecurities in some of these situations - and sure, it's everyone's personal choice, but what impacts that choice? Is it an absurd desire to conform to some perceived male desire?

          •  The mother or father... no. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine, rserven

            As the person whose flesh is to be removed is not the one making the choice. Such decisions cannot morally be made for another. But when you're talking about the actions of free adults, the parameters change dramatically.

            If the husband asks the wife to have her labia trimmed, or to go the other way, if the wife asks the husband for a penile enlargement, the choice is still entirely in the hands of the person whose body is to be changed. In either case, the person being asked can do any of three things.

            1. Have the surgery. Even if it's only to please their partner, that's purely and solely their call.
            1. Not have the surgery, but stay in the relationship. Hopefully, they would then work out the underlying sexual issues. But if they didn't, and chose instead to be miserable, again, not anybody else's decision but theirs.
            1. End the relationship. I suspect that this would be the most frequent choice.

            I can say that, if my wife wanted me to have my penis surgically enlarged, I would refuse. If that decision meant that she could no longer be with happy with me sexually, then we'd have some tough decisions to make. But I would not do it. The converse situation would never obtain... I would never ask another human being to change their body to suit me.

            You seem to be focusing on the reasons that a woman might choose to have her vagina surgically modified. That's no argument. The reasons are nobody's business but the single person involved. Even if you find them offensive, it's nobody else's goddamned business.

            You and I don't get a vote.

            I am an absolutist when it comes to personal liberty of this kind. If you want to cut off your arm because you think it's ugly, I cannot tell you not to. The fact that we're talking about vaginas changes nothing. It's not yours, and you (and I) are simply not qualified to have an opinion.

            --Shannon

            "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
            "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

            by Leftie Gunner on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:23:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What an adult does is their business... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tryptamine

              we agree on that.

              However, when one gender is basing their decisions on how another gender views them - that means that one gender has more POWER than the other and sexism prevails. Either we want to root out sexism or we don't. I'd prefer to see women empowered to make their own decisions based on THEIR perceptions of what is good/beautiful, etc. When women make their decisions on what they think men prefer - women remain objects. Demeaned. Lesser than. You may be okay with that - I'm not.

              •  You're assuming quite a lot... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rserven

                Namely, that you know, and are qualified to judge, the reasons that another woman might choose to do something that you find objectionable.

                And so do I, at least in the abstract. I don't see the appeal. As a happily heterosexual, (and proudly lecherous), man, all vaginas are equally perfect. At least, I've never seen one that I didn't like. I would hope that women think the same of penises, although I think they're kinda weird lookin'. Even mine... although  I like it just fine. Works for me, eh?

                But never forget that everything a human does is done by choice. Everything. Nobody but me can make me do anything. I am always, irrevocably, in charge of my actions. We all do a cost-benefit analysis of every action we take. And that balance sheet is ours, and ours alone. The thing that the Wiccans always seemed to me to have right was the principle "an' it harm none, do what thou wilt."

                Nobody is "lesser than". Or, as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, "nobody can make you miserable without your consent." To argue otherwise is inevitably to place yourself in a superior position to the the person whose actions you are judging. Who are we to know, who are we to judge?

                As to the "objectification" of women... that blade's got two edges, as any woman who's ever been to a male strip show can attest. Seeing members of the opposite sex in a primarily sexual light is something that's been programmed into us by a million years of evolution. We all do it, even if we feel bad about it later. It's unlikely that we'd be here having this discussion without it. Our genes know no morality, and Nature judges only success or failure.

                I'd even go so far as to say that there is nothing wrong with seeing someone, of whatever gender you are attracted to, and saying to yourself, "Man, I'd really like to fuck him/her." Or even just to look at them, and derive pleasure from the looking. So long as you treat people as people, it's OK. Part of the sickness of our society is the way we think about sex. The Puritans were simply wrong.

                Too often, I see attempts to reverse this fundamental error making the same mistake in the opposite direction. It seems to me far better to simply choose not to judge the sexual actions of other free adults. Even if we think that they're gross. "Ewww" is not an ethical principle.

                --Shannon

                "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                by Leftie Gunner on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:21:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, I'm not assuming... (0+ / 0-)

                  Namely, that you know, and are qualified to judge, the reasons that another woman might choose to do something that you find objectionable.

                  I'm looking at the reasons women have given for having these procedures done. Again - there ARE in fact women who get these procedures at the push of someone else, or because they think a man may like them better, etc. These are reasons given by women who want or who have had these procedures done. And when women make decisions about their bodies based on their desire to please someone else, that means that those women are no longer equal - they are objects of that man. They are submissive to HIS will and not their own. And no, we can't make that illegal or ban it - but we shouldn't encourage it. When we see it we should point it out - if we don't then these women are harming themselves AND they are harming other women by promoting this message elsewhere.

                  Any plastic surgery fits into this category. Are women getting these surgeries because they want them for their own personal reasons? They would personally feel better about their breasts if they were pointier...or rounder...etc. Or are they getting surgeries to impress men? That's not a healthy reason to act. That's an insecure reason to act...especially when knives and potentially permanent damage is involved. Plastic surgery isn't always successful. Even a boob job is dangerous - saline and silicone both burst open and can cause serious damage. Women can develop eating disorders as a result of the male gaze and societal pressure. We should be doing something - as a society - to prevent that from happening.

                  •  It's still none of your business. (0+ / 0-)

                    And you are in no way qualified to judge.

                    They are doing what they are doing, for whatever reasons they are doing so.

                    The fact that you don't like their reasons is irrelevant. You don't get a vote. You are not even entitled to an opinion. Even if their reasons are 100% based on a desire to please someone else. Even if that someone else pisses standing up. Pay attention to your own body. Nobody else's is your business.

                    You either respect other humans as free agents, or you do not.

                    Make your choice.

                    --Shannon

                    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                    by Leftie Gunner on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 11:13:01 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Seems anything can be (4+ / 0-)

    done if the price is right, Elise.  Anything.

    "Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

    by Dreaming of Better Days on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:06:07 PM PST

  •  really good diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DebtorsPrison, tryptamine, sberel, Elise

    There are so many things this brings up for me. Breast augmentation, the way women on magazine covers all have the same nose, footbinding, tanning salons, there is no end to what women will get suckered into letting other people do to their bodies so they will be "pretty." Many of us also get stuck with shaving, make-up, birth control (quite often), being "nice," and otherwise trying to please, which only too frequently get you tagged as a likely victim.

    Anyone who thinks women aren't oppressed in our society is delusional.

    "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

    by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:08:08 PM PST

  •  It's my vagina (7+ / 0-)

    I'll do whatever the fuck I want with it, thank you very much

    •  You go , girl! n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mijita, sberel
    •  Will you report back (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mijita, sberel, Elise, DemocraticLuntz

      and let us know how it turns out?

      Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. -Anonymous

      by gloryous1 on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:28:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  cool (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel, Elise, DemocraticLuntz

      have a bull's eye tattooed on it in six different colors, if that's what floats your boat.

      Just don't do it simply because you think you won't be accepted if you don't. Overall, I'd argue to perform as few actions as possible according to that criteria.

      "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

      by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:05:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why not??? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine

        What gives you the power to decide whether somebody else's reasons for doing anything to their own body are valid?

        --Shannon

        "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
        "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

        by Leftie Gunner on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:39:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the same thing that gives me the power (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elise

          to decide that women who stick with wife-beaters are not making wise decisions.

          I'm not talking about all reasons, just this reason, just deciding that you have to undergo physical trauma (or mental trauma, for that matter) for no reason other than to live up to somebody else's expectations.

          I think that's a really bad move.

          "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

          by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:35:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd agree that it's a bad move. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine

            What I will not do is to arrogate to myself the power to say that you cannot make that bad move.

            This is an issue of personal freedom. That necessarily implies the freedom to make decisions that others will not like, for reasons that they disagree with. If only you are harmed, then nobody else gets a vote.

            You either believe in freedom, or you do not. You cannot have it both ways. Protecting people from themselves is simply a kinder way of asserting your superiority.

            --Shannon

            "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
            "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

            by Leftie Gunner on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:00:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  if someone wants to add (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Elise

              getting used to his or her list of life's experiences, far be it from me to try to stop that person. But it's one thing to say "that's not a good idea" and quite another to actively try to stop someone. Generally people ignore advice and I surely don't waste my time trying to control them, so I must say I have no idea what we are arguing about at this point, and furthermore have the sensation that you are confusing me with someone else. Protecting people from themselves, oh please.

              The diarist did not argue that surgical alteration of the labia should be made illegal, and neither have I. I would, however, be inclined to argue that no medical professional should be expected or licensed to surgically excise anyone's clitoris or penis for purely aesthetic reasons, just as I would argue that we should not expect such persons to amputate limbs for aesthetic reasons, or execute people for aesthetic reasons. Beyond a certain point, you're on your own with this stuff. And I still don't recommend any of it.

              "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

              by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 11:47:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But if you say that nobody (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tryptamine

                should be licensed to perform aesthetic alterations of the genitalia, isn't that a de facto ban, given that practicing surgery without a license is itself a crime? It's OK for one reason, but not for another?

                And again, we come to the basic question...

                Who decides?

                --Shannon

                "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                by Leftie Gunner on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 12:46:19 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  you debate well (0+ / 0-)

                  and what I come back to, is that I don't think people should even want aesthetic alterations of any parts of their bodies, because I think the mindsets involved are deeply ill and promulgated by evil people.

                  And don't get me started on the medical profession in America overall; I trust those people about as far as I can shake a stick. I read on HealthBeatBlog yesterday that about 20 odd thousand people die each year here from lack of adequate health care, while over 100,000 die from complications resultant from medical treatment.

                  This datum needs a few more numbers to be properly analyzed, but my, it does make one wonder. As long as I'm not actually sick, none of those people are getting near me with their ten foot poles and whatnot.

                  "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

                  by mieprowan on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 08:08:22 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You've nailed it, (0+ / 0-)

                    although perhaps not in the way that you were hoping to:

                    I don't think people should even want aesthetic alterations of any parts of their bodies, because I think the mindsets involved are deeply ill and promulgated by evil people.

                    You don't think they should, but they do anyway. So your response is to prevent them, by force of law, from making choices that you find distasteful, and even evil, when those choices affect nobody else but the chooser.

                    Ultimately, there is only one real political division among humans. There are people who wish to control the actions of others, and there are those who do not. Which (if any) you want to control, and for what reasons, determines "liberal" or "conservative" in a modern context, but these are artificial divisions.

                    You, at least in this area, are a controller, and I am not. I doubt it's a difference we're going to resolve, although enlightening conversation is clearly possible.

                    Thank you for participating in it.

                    --Shannon

                    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                    by Leftie Gunner on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 02:09:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I find it strange (0+ / 0-)

                      that you keep saying I want to prevent people from engaging the services of cosmetic surgeons, by force of law, when I have written repeatedly that I am not advocating making any of these procedures illegal.

                      I have made my opinions clear, and I have not even gotten into debate topics regarding allocation of medical resources, which are significant.

                      Since you apparently want very much to find someone who wishes to outlaw cosmetic surgery and call them a controller, I wish you the best of luck, but you are barking up the wrong tree here.

                      Miep

                      "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

                      by mieprowan on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 09:55:57 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  OK, I found it... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mieprowan

                        You made a distinction that I missed.

                        You were arguing that nobody should be licensed to perform surgical excision of the clitoris or penis for cosmetic reasons. I read it wrong, and thought you meant ANY alteration to those parts, rather than their complete removal.

                        I'm still not sure that's OK, as my penis remains mine to do with as I wish, but it's different from what I thought you were saying.

                        --Shannon

                        "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                        "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                        by Leftie Gunner on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:47:18 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  another distinction (0+ / 0-)

                          what you do with your penis is one thing, but when you involve someone else with genital mutilation that's another thing.

                          Once one takes to licensing doctors to perform elective genital removal, one opens more cans of worms than I care to contemplate.

                          I am surely not advocating refusing to license surgeons to perform other sorts of cosmetic surgery to the genitalia, although I make no secret of thinking that in most cases this is sad and misguided behavior. However, I am most adamantly against any provisions for including payment for such procedures in any national health insurance plan, excepting gender reassignment surgery and some extreme cases of atypical genitalia. As you note with the latter, "who decides?" isn't an easy question, but avoiding difficult questions doesn't solve anything.

                          As I've noted before, i think this is all in the same ballpark as breast augmentation and facelifts, as a few examples (and there are many more), and I don't think it's fair to expect people who are willing to live with what their heredity has dealt them, to help pay for Michael Jackson wannabees.

                          Considering medical resource allocation makes the whole issue even more disturbing - shouldn't plastic surgeons be tending to burn victims as a higher priority than people who would like a prettier nose? Some people don't even have noses, or health insurance, either.

                          Americans so often think we could get everything we want, all of us, from the medical establishment, if only the bad guys would let us. I haven't seen any trend lately, though, towards docs going into plastic surgery as a public service. It all costs money and if we arrange for it to be cheaper, that will not automatically provide docs to perform these now cheaper services. I'm much more concerned about basic health care being available to everyone. And even if you're willing to pay for elective surgery yourself, you are still affecting the whole gestalt; demand drives supply, and I don't think we are going to be seeing an increasing number of Americans graduating from med school any time soon. And there is a definite trend for them to go into specialty medicine as it is.

                          Lots of problems and I don't mean for a minute to underestimate how complex all of this is, or how difficult to resolve.

                          It's quite possible that the best option would be to insource docs - find all these folks who train in other, cheaper countries and bring them in to fill out the rapidly shrinking ranks of our primary health care physicians (the availability of whom I'm much more concerned about, than that of cosmetic surgeons). This, too, would be complicated, but it worries me greatly that America seems to think that if we just got nationalized health insurance, there would suddenly be tons more health care available.

                          Of course, that would mean we'd have to get used to having furriners touch our bods, but we might be having to get used to a lot of things we don't like, we Americans, somewhere down the line here.

                          Miep

                          "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

                          by mieprowan on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:19:21 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Or, consider the alternate idea... (0+ / 0-)

                            A case could be made that the current economics of plastic surgery represent as close to a free market in health care as we're likely to see.

                            Breast augmentation, which is not covered by insurance (except post-mastectomy, if then), is just about a pure cash at the head of the stairs business.

                            A boob job costs, based on the reports of friends and relatives, around $5,000.

                            An equivalent surgery that is covered by insurance would certainly be far, far more money. I've no idea what the "equivalent surgery", in terms of difficulty, time, materials, etc. would be, but whatever you pick, I'm pretty certain it ain't no five grand. Adding a zero wouldn't surprise me. Hell, adding two zeros wouldn't surprise me.

                            Mind you, this is not an argument that I'm prepared to make, as the morality of it is somewhat disturbing. To say the least. But it's an interesting sideline to the whole debate about medical costs.

                            What would health care cost if everyone had to pay 100% out of pocket? What would be the conditions of access to care, if there were no middlemen?

                            Nobody, not even the libertarian think tanks that you would think would argue for this approach, has been talking about this angle. They're quite willing to fold cosmetic surgery patients into the numbers of Canadians who come to America for "health care",  but of course, that's different. Disintermediation would kill off the insurance industry as effectively as would single-payer, and we can't have that, now can we??

                            --Shannon

                            "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                            "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                            by Leftie Gunner on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:43:25 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  okay, you gotta keep in mind here (0+ / 0-)

                            with me, that I think most of it's a scam. I read on healthbeatblog recently that over 100,000 people die every year here because of medical treatment screwups, while twenty-odd thousand die due to lack of adequate medical treatment.

                            Clearly these numbers need some other numbers to put them in perspective. But they are interesting numbers any way you look at it.

                            My understanding is that a lot of the people who die from lack of medical treatment are dying from stuff like inadequate prenatal care, basic stuff. Stuff that doesn't really need new research, or new meds, or new devices.

                            I do think that privatizing insurance on large scales, sucks. I think it sucks with medical insurance, with disaster insurance, unemployment insurance, major infrastructure collapse insurance. The outliers always get the short end of the stick when the profit motive is included in the picture.

                            If it was outlawed that anyone could buy private insurance for these sorts of things, it might well result in great social and political upheaval. I'm not at all sure I'm against the idea, though I am strongly in favor of some kind of nationalized state insurance for all these things - in fact, I think that's one of the most useful things the state can do for its citizens, to ensure that there is some kind of limit to how low we can go. But I am not at all in favor of people having to pay 100% out of pocket for any of this.

                            The idea of outlawing such private insurance is interesting, because the industry cannot easily go underground, as that would block its access to the court system.

                            We can also, as a country, work on promulgating better and less politically influenced scientific research. I'm all for that; I really do believe people focus on weird stuff like endlessly trimming their bodies, when they are at a loss as to what better to devote their lives to. Women especially. I agree with all the penis-people that this stuff about size and hardness is a really shitty piece of judgment to have handed down by anyone (men or women), and I know it fucks up men. I'll still say "women especially," though, as long as most of the people who run this country are (ostensibly straight) men, and that doesn't even begin to address sexual persuation and race issues.

                            "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

                            by mieprowan on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:21:19 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I doubt private insurance will be outlawed... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mieprowan

                            Most single-payer systems permit it, and it works pretty well. You can get services the government won't pay for, or get non-critical services faster, but nobody has to die to subsidize it.

                            The idea of a cash-and-carry health care system was more of a thought experiment, and it does point out the hypocrisy of the so-called free-marketeers on this issue. The true Libertarian (capital "L") solution would be what I described. Everybody pays upfront, and the prices are set by whatever the market will bear. I actually think that prices (and doctors' incomes) would fall dramatically in a true supply/demand scenario. Disintermediation (cutting out the middleman) almost always results in lower prices. Which doesn't make it a good solution, as there are clearly non-economic dimensions to this.

                            I'd agree that the majority of cosmetic medical procedures are performed on women. The statistics don't leave much room for argument. It's probably too easy to blame that fact on patriarchy, though. Just as it's equally easy (and just as erroneous) to assign it to "female vanity". As one who believes that gender differences are more real, and more biologically based, than we're comfortable thinking about, (I'm not asserting superiority here, just difference,) I wouldn't be surprised to see that statistical difference remain no matter what we do, but I'm aware of no research on it. I'm not even sure that any such research could be rigorously or even ethically.

                            As to male penis anxiety, or, as George Carlin put it, "dick fear", I don't get it. I sure have seen it, though. My first night in boot camp, we were all herded into the 12-nozzled group shower. I saw the other 11 guys in the room staring intently at the wall in front of them. So I made a big show of looking around, then looked down at myself. Looked around again, making sure everyone was looking at me, and announced, "Goddamn, I've got a small dick!!" I don't think I've seen 11 people laugh that hard in my life.

                            People are weird.

                            --Shannon

                            "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                            "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                            by Leftie Gunner on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:37:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                            yes, libertarians would argue that everyone is and should be out for themselves, and that this would eliminate predatory behavior, at least in the context of insurance. I'd like to think there are better ways to fix insurance than killing it, though.

                            Your comments on gender differences and the availability of cosmetic surgery are well stated. However, we live in a society that is still pretty much controlled by men (white men), and the influence of that reality cannot be easily dismissed. Of course, it's quite possible that white women get their boobs done more frequently than black women; all sorts of things are possible; I don't know the data on that, and data is endlessly complex. Generally speaking I grieve that Americans are so obsessed with doing things to their bodies, with it being their right to hire other people to do things to their bodies. It is a limited and overall narcissistic mindset.

                            I liked your boot camp story. One from my youth in turn:

                            I'm 51 now, and in the late 70's and early 80's I lived in Los Angeles, where once in awhile I went so far in my loneliness to go out to bars, get drunk, and pick up guys for one night stands. I probably did this about a dozen times over the course of ten years.

                            I might have done so more frequently, if the trend wasn't so strongly towards getting me in bed, getting me to give head, and then fucking me, without much interest on the part of the guy as to how I felt about any of this. Sure, I was easy; I don't like to fight all that much, I like people to be happy. But you'd think they'd at least notice that I wasn't having all that good a time.

                            One guy I remember had a penis about the size of my thumb. He couldn't get it hard, I went down on him a lot, eventually we fell asleep. Just before that, he thanked me. I'll never forget that 'thank you;' it was a straight arrow communication.

                            I look back on a fair amount of the above as close to date rape, but the guy with the small penis; he's a little special to me. I heard later he went on to do innovative and ground-breaking things in social economic organization in the US - can't say more, this is a public blog. But... let's hear it for guys with small penises.

                            And, speaking as a woman; those big ones can really hurt! Careful with that axe, Eugene! I've often wondered how many women really are all that happy with having a big penis stuck in them in an insensitive manner, and how many just fake it because they believe this is how it's spozed to be.

                            Miep

                            "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

                            by mieprowan on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 05:32:28 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

              •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tryptamine

                You are going to compare vaginal surgey to abusive spouses?  That's ridiculous.  And all vaginal surgey isn't clitoral amputation.  In fact, many surgeries enhance a woman's sexual experience by revealing the clitoris and increasing stimulation during intercourse.  Whether they do it for sexual exhancement or aesthetics, why is that any of your business?

                •  I am comparing (0+ / 0-)

                  subjugating one's self to perceived male expectations to subjugating one's self to perceived male expectations.

                  Of course, we could not possibly expect the man to get anywhere near the clitoris with anything but his penis, and those pesky foot-long labia are far too hard to keep out of the way.

                  I'll be much more openminded about all of this when I start reading about guys having their scrotal sacs surgically tightened so they won't get in the way of the entry of their penises into vaginas. That won't happen, though, because when that happens, the guys actually reach down there with their fingers and pull the excess skin out of the way. Imagine that.

                  "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

                  by mieprowan on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 08:12:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  If the big 3 go down (0+ / 0-)

    who will we have going round at the Daytona 500?
    Nothing but Toyota Camrys?

    Abolish the Homeland Scrutiny Department.

    by hoplite9 on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:13:40 PM PST

  •  The comparison to FGM..... (7+ / 0-)

    ....is shaky, imo.  Most of these surgeries involve older females who are consenting to the procedure, yes?

    Obviously there are issues wrt teenagers, but I'm not certain that a flat out prohibition is the answer.

    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

    by Alec82 on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:13:54 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (5+ / 0-)

      I appreciate this diary -- Lacan, for goodness sakes! -- but I too take issue with the FGC comparison (female genital cutting is the more neutral and accurate term IMO).

      The definition of FGM, according to the World Health Organization, includes any cutting of the labia, as well as part or all of the clitoris. It is much more severe than what is being done by these plastic surgeons. But in all cultures, using a surgical procedure to conform to an external definition of what a woman's genitals are supposed to look like is mutilation.

      The difference? Even if they're doing it for perceived societal-pressure reasons, women (and men) getting genital surgery are in a consensual relationship with their doctors, and they are above the age of consent.

      Girls undergoing FGC often don't even know what's happening until it happens, and certainly aren't given a choice about it.

      I'm really all for choice in all its forms, even if it's choosing to do something that I find appalling and objectionable. The women having cosmetic surgery are making a choice (albeit perhaps a disturbing one). The girls in cultures practicing FGC are not making a choice. Thus, kind of a false comparison.

      Obama's doing it and you should too: Adopt your next pet.

      by Quincy Woo on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:28:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely amazing... (4+ / 0-)

    labiaplasty is attractive to some women because they fear that their own labia are too large or abnormally shaped when compared with those they've seen on websites and in magazines.

    What is too large?  What is abnormal?  How many women really look at pics of "normal" vaginas and pine for them?

    This is beyond the pale.  

    One more action that is setting all of us back 1000's of years....

    Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

    by JaciCee on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:21:13 PM PST

    •  Probably not that bad an effect on society , Jaci (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, Elise, JaciCee

      Cee , but the idea the diarist was presenting , that there are many people for whom  some slight difference between their bodies and some ideal of prefection is worth risking surgery for , and surgery is no light matter , I know from necesary experience , well , damn , society is telling people more about how to feel small and bad about ourselves than doing helpful things.

      •  Exactly! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, Abra Crabcakeya

        I know from necesary experience , well , damn , society is telling people more about how to feel small and bad about ourselves than doing helpful things.

        And that is what sets up back 1000's of years.  Letting other people define our own self worth, beauty, self image...and the list goes on.

        Never would I ever consider altering my vajayjay because of images I may see in a magazine or in a doctors office.

        Not the church. Not the state. Women will decide their fate.

        by JaciCee on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:32:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  oh, you can find anything on the Internet n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

      by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:33:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can a stripper deduct this as a business expense? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jampacked

    "I'm going to be on you like a numerator on a denominator." -Principal Skinner

    by dufffbeer on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:24:10 PM PST

  •  $$$ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    This is a fascinating thread and I am glad I don't have to decide what our society should do about this. I do believe the docs are rustling up the business, and this just is one more example of a broken health care system. There may well be cases that we might all agree are justified, and my bottom line is leave it up to women and their doctors. Where I I heard that before?

    On a personal note, they are all gorgeous in my experience. When I was in high school lots of my female friends were having little parties where they got out the mirrors and celebrated their uniqueness. Some even made casts of their externals. It was the 60's and it was good!

  •  SAY NO TO GENITAL MUTILATION (0+ / 0-)

    fuckin' vagina motherfuckers!

    some folks need to see/read/hear the vagina monologues

    and jean kilbourne

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    "Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado." -Emiliano Zapata

    by eitheror on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:29:33 PM PST

  •  I think these procedures are (6+ / 0-)

    probably unwise and I would encourage stricter discipline on their use within the community.  But, the issue of FGM in the developing world has some significant difference.

    1. It is normally performed on minors who are pubescent or pre-pubescent.  They have no say in the matter.
    1. It is frequently done in an unsafe manner.  Most are performed by non-medically trained personnel using, in many cases, unsterile equipment.  The stories of FGM are replete with tales of this being done with shards of glass or other non-sterile sharp objects.
    1. Culturally, it tells women that they are incapable of controlling their own sexuality.

    While the procedures described in this diary are most likely a bad idea, so is Botox.  Women are, under medical supervision, having Botulism toxins injected into their skin in order to deaden the nerves.  That is, to my mind, vain and stupid.  So is this procedure.  But, it does not consitute anywhere near  the catastorphe for young women that traditional FGM is.

    I am for the individual over government, government over business, and the environment over all. -- William O. Douglas

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:32:23 PM PST

  •  What a fantastic essay. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jay C

    This should be required reading for everyone on earth, simultaneously translated and read aloud, like mosque music, once per week.  I will read it all more carefully and raise my consciousness a bit in the process later.  Thanks to the poster here for an invaluable, and, apparently, quite popular cervix, I mean service, excuse me.

    As to what lies behind this rejection of what we are, in tandem with paying to scarify in the name of rejuvenation, I have been contemplating a graduate degree for years on something like the following topic: 'Contemporary Capitalism and the Universalization of Fetish.'  Wherever one looks, at fashion, in media, at video games, in churches(goodness gracious), leading lights extol the virtues of fetishized relationships with ourselves, with commodities, and with the commodification of ourselves.

    The way that I hypothesize it working is fascinating.  For all sorts of obvious reasons, current socio-economic patterns engender disgust, alienation, and all sorts of psychosomatic difficulties, in addition to the harshness of militarism and the ever-looming threat of the poorhouse.  In such a context, people who don't face firing squads or starvation long for ways to address their cosmic angst, their sense of ennui so deeply rooted that it seems to blossom from their essential natures.

    They look around, and, voila!!  Some surgeon or someone else has a perfectly designed fetish to ameliorate the sense of dislocation and emptiness.  One response is to embrace the universal feminine eros of nature, and our nature.  But for those who are in the thrall of Prozac and hairlessness, etc., such a leap is easier in prospect than aspect, as it were.

    Anyhow, thanks again.  I've got miles of files about this, so maybe you will inspire me.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 08:47:23 PM PST

  •  The problem can be licked in a number of ways (3+ / 0-)

    _________________
    "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold, is for
    people of good conscience to remain silent."
         --Thomas Jefferson

    by FreeSociety on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:05:57 PM PST

  •  You got me with the title Elise.... (3+ / 0-)

    and I have to say that I won't have this kind of surgery in a million years!  I wouldn't even get a boob job, even if my breasts were dragging on the floor! This illusion of the "perfect" female body through surgery is just sick!  And wrong!  Do men really want plastic fake women?
    And, I have to say, there is nothing wrong with my body the way it is; hey for 40 I look pretty damn good. ;-)

    "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." -John Lennon

    by angrybird on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:24:16 PM PST

  •  Can't wait for the malpractice suits. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Julia C

    Court TV will become must see.

  •  Vaginas, the Perfect Genitalia (5+ / 0-)

    Can't improve upon vaginas, as far as I can tell.  Work exactly right for their intended purposes.  Great design!

    If that is so, then we must tend our own gardens then.

    by Otherday on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:44:38 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine

    This is so disturbing.

    If you look at enough porn, you can see women's labia vary from almost non-existent to quite large--that's just normal.

    I myself (not to give TMI) have rather large labia, and never considered when I was young that there was anything wrong--it was normal because it was me.

    [what's that kids song:
     if your ears hang low
     you can tie them in a bow
     you can tie them in a knot...]

    I think there is an absolute pathology in modern society in regards to cosmetic surgery.  It just makes me dizzy to think about it.  arg and yuck.

  •  Whatever happened to (0+ / 0-)

    "my body, my choice?"  I find it rather amusing that the same people who advocate for legality of abortion on the theory that a woman may do with her body as she wishes, all of a sudden feel queasy about letting that same woman make other surgical choices simply on the ground that they think the choices are not wise ones.

    Furthermore, our laws ban FGM so long as it is not consented to by the individual.  If a woman wants to do whatever she wants to0 do withher vagina, what business is it of yours?

    •  Read it again - (0+ / 0-)

      you missed the point.

      •  As I said elsewhere, I fail to see the point (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, women want to look like images that men find attractive.  So?  How is that different from anything else?  Men want the same.  That's why no one shows up in a pick-up bar wearing a potato bag.  People dress to impress precisely because attractiveness matters.  That some wish to take it farther than others is not of major concern, so long as these women are told of the risks of the procedure.

  •  Men aren't immune to "The Gaze" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Elise

    While the double-standards have lessened slightly in modern civilized society, it still has eons to go.

    My favorite myth is that women don't like porn or sex. Please! Some of the biggest porn-hounds I know are women, and more than a few are ashamed about it like it is unnatural. News flash: it's not.

    In regards to the flip side, there has been a huge increase in female empowerment in things like the film industry where women take the role of action hero stars and things like that. Strong, assertive roles instead of just the damsel in distress.

    Still, in many/most cases they are still hyper-sexualized. Men, on the other hand, rarely are.

    In fact, if a straight man tries to be sexy he is often called "gay" by other males, as if looking good for the ladies somehow magically alters someone's sexuality. Apparently those men forget that straight women enjoy looking at the male form. Surprise! It's not all about what the males want to see.

    And how about we flip that sexist military combat policy? Women can be excellent frontline soldiers, yet they are denied soley on the basis of vagina despite having the other physical and mental qualifications. Women in the Military

    I realize this is a bit of a tangent, but I care a lot about this issue. Apologies.

  •  Not another Tim Kaine diary (3+ / 0-)

        Oh, I thought you were talking about the state of Vir.....

        Never mind.

  •  Part of this comment has to do with Pop-up's (0+ / 0-)

    (and no I not talking about that)I looked at the before and after pic's and the before look is more arousing than the after pic's cause to me the after pics looked like what I used to see in those kiddie-porn Pop-Ups that used to be everywhere thankfully they've gone away over the years but since seeing underage vagina's didn't do anything for me I clicked close but I already saw the pics so I have a source of reference when I say why are grown women trying to make themselves look like 12 year old girls and I wonder about the guys who are turned on by that look.Also like Herb who's married to Alan's wife on Two an a half Men asked after watching porn in one episode "whatever happen to pubic hair?" I to wonder whatever happened to it,and I'm hearing more and more guys are starting to get rid of their pubic hair does that mean that sometime in the future guys will get Penis reductions to make their Penis look "younger" like 12 year-old boys.

  •  Given everything women are already (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, Elise, DemocraticLuntz

    being made to feel insecure about in terms of their bodies, do we have to add this one too?

    Sheesh.

  •  Well, I never thought about THAT before! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    Vaginal cosmetic surgery? WAY too much time and money floating around out there...

    Fucketh not with the MF diary, for you have but 5 HR, and we (collectively) have hundreds.

    by SciMathGuy on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 04:58:40 AM PST

  •  isn't it "designa vagina?" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    Let not mankind bogart love - Willie Nelson

    by bottles on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:54:16 AM PST

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