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kaleigh19's picture

Tangential, but...

I actually wanted to follow up on something that came up in last week's thread...I met with someone last week who's a good friend of a gynecological surgeon who specializes in the restoration of the genitals of women who have undergone female circumcision. (She most frequently clears away scar tissue so that the women can clear menstrual blood properly or bear children.) What fascinated me the most about the conversation, though, was the following tidbit: many women in cultures that practice FGM "want" to go through with it. They will feel so unclean that if a "skilled" doctor isn't able to provide them with the procedure, they'll go out and get them done on their own, the equivalent of back-alley abortions. It's really an interesting perspective on the evolution of morality, I guess - the culture selects for (or pressures women into becoming) women who feel unclean when they haven't undergone a clitorectomy. And I suppose that it's possible that this kind of culture might select for women who experience a lower biochemical response to sexual stimulation, to breed a group of women who don't enjoy breeding. It's really a neat intersection of culture and reproduction, right at the threshold of biological and cultural evolution. It also makes me wonder - what kind of person is our culture selecting for? What sets of values and moralities are we indoctrinating our children with, and what does that bode for future generations? And how much of our day-to-day actions are entirely determined by our culture, by the evolution of our culture over hundreds of years?

Katie Baratz


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