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USA Perspectives And Terminologies Re: Female And Male Genital ‘Mutilation’, ‘Circumcision’ Or ‘Cutting’?

February 17, 2017

cuttingA question posted on Quora asks: Why does the USA call female circumcision ‘female genital mutilation’ when male circumcision is widespread in the country? Implicit here are also I think a number of other enquiries:  are FGM and MGM (male genital mutilation / circumcision) ‘the same’?  Is MGM acceptable because it’s still relatively widespread in the USA?  And maybe also, what is the correct terminology for these harmful traditional practices? In my view both FGM and MGM are human rights issues which must be confronted and stopped.

I list here some of the information I shared in response to the Quora question, including some links to other material.

It is important also to note that, in Western contexts, ‘cutting’ is an act of self-harm done by people experiencing psychological pain.  The term ‘cutting’ is for that reason doubly inappropriate with reference to FGM or MGM.  (In some traditional contexts however it is an appropriate word to use in totally informal, community-based discussion, although not in professional dialogue, where, as discussed above, the appropriate term in ‘mutilation’.)

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