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Pimping fannies is not charity…FYI

April 7, 2010
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I just thought I would put that out there, seeing as there are some who feel that this is clearly not the case. When I first heard about Clitoraid (yes that is their name) via the blacklooks blog I was a bit taken a back, not really sure what my strongest emotion was at hearing the initial concept. Then I went and visited the website for Clitoraid and I had to sit for a while and really ponder what was going on there, so let me break it down my opinions on this matter.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a terrible thing. Yes, I agree.

Women in Africa suffer greatly with this predicament. Well, lest we forget its a pretty big continent and not every country/culture engages in it, I shall in a generalised sense say, ok, I sort of agree.

A doctor in France has developed a method of reconstructing the clitoris to restore feeling and sensation to a woman after FGM. Flipping brilliant, thank the lord for the science!(Dr Pierre Foldes)

Clitoraid wants to help women in Burkina Faso reconstruct their clitoris’ by asking kind donors to “adopt a clitoris”……..now where in the funk did that come from?!

Of all the possible approaches to take, all the various ways to raise awareness of the importance of sensation and pleasure in a woman, the importance of stopping the world from ignoring how FGM de-humanises a woman, this bunch of ignorami (yes in the plural) believe that it is ok to ask you to adopt a flipping clitoris?! Does anyone else see the woeful connotation of purchasing a foreign fanny online?!

Jest aside, the charity mongers will argue that it is a priviledged position to argue against a point of language when someone clearly has good intentions, but purlease. There is this little known thing called DIGNITY. For every assault an African woman can endure, those on her dignity go deeper than any other.

What would we think of a campaign asking us to adopt a European man’s testicles to raise money for testicular cancer research? Or shall we start sponsoring an American woman’s boob which sends us regular update letters and photos while fighting a battle with breast cancer? Sound ridiculous? Well so does Clitoraid. I don’t care if foolishness comes from a good intention, it has to get called out and made to account for its consequences.

And just what are the consequences? Ridiculing and devaluing important issues. FGM is not a flippant topic, care and cultural and emotional sensitivity have to come to the fore when addressing it. Some things don’t need a catchy hook to get people motivated about it.

In Clitoraid’s defence, they have some achievements against their name, they are in the process of building a hospital (the “Pleasure Hospital”), and have truly helped some women by supporting them financially through surgery. No one is saying their work is not valid or unnecessary, if we all got off our backsides and did something philanthropic (other than just sending money) about what we feel strongly about, then the world would generally be a better place.

But, there are means and ways. People don’t give up their right to integrity, dignity, pride and choice because they are candidates for anyone’s charity.

A bit more background on Clitoraid, they are a project from the Raelian cult who believe we came from aliens whom we have to welcome back at some point or some similar theory……erm…..nuff said from me, I shall let Sokari from blacklooks have the final word on that:

“Their leader was “contacted by another planet and asked to establish an embassy to welcome people back to earth”. To this end they are required to build a welcome temple for their returnees in 2035 from outer space. Now this cost money and souls must be found to work towards building the temple and a country to host the embassy. Please Please let this not be in Africa!”

(Facebook Group – Feminists Challenging Clitoriad)

Update 14/04/10: Read Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg’s blog for responses she has received from some supporters of Clitoraid. Also, Dr Petra Boynton’s excellent post which asks all the questions we should all ask about charities. A little due diligence goes a long way. The doctor who pioneered the reconstruction technique, Dr Pierre Foldes, has also spoken out about Clitoraid and it’s misuse of his work (article is in French).

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2010 4:17 pm

    thank you for posting this!!

    We’ve got an online petition going urging Good Vibrations, an allegedly feminist business to step back from their unquestioning support of Clitoraid and their African women’s clitoris adoptions.
    Online petition is live. Stand up for dignity and respect for ALL women, including African women! http://tinyurl.com/ylzbsbt

  2. June 4, 2010 2:45 pm

    I read about this at Blacklooks as well and couldn’t wrap my head around it, honestly. You breaking it down and of course, the benefit of some more time to think about it, has helped. And still, all I can do is sigh and remind myself to not get upset. But, I cannot avoid my feelings that this ‘approach’ is rude, dehumanizing and condescending. Again, because we Africans have little voice, our people are forced to subjugate themselves to the ploys of those who might have good intentions but are working from a mentality that is dangerous and detrimental for those they allegedly seek to help.

  3. October 14, 2010 9:18 pm

    All i can say is…WTF!!!! Adopt a clitoris? Whoever came up, and agreed to, THAT! It’s just wrong 😦

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