What can we learn from what men are able to tells us? A comment by Burton has survived his widow’s destructive zeal. He observes that Pharaonic circumcision tends to have quite the opposite effect it strives to achieve. It does not dampen the sex drive in women, but tends to create a tendency toward sexual voraciousness in them instead. The removal of their sexual parts, he explains, makes it more difficult for them to achieve sexual satisfaction, hence it intensifies their desire.
Some of the women I interview do indeed volunteer that when they want more sex in the middle of the night, they bang pots and pans about to wake their husbands. A more direct approach is of course, not allowed to them. The pots and pans, they tell me, generally do have the desired effect, however. Their husbands understand perfectly.
Interviews with men who have had sexual relations with uncircumcised women as well as circumcised ones provide us with further insight. While Sudanese women are culturally bound to pretend that they do not experience orgasm, that they are unaware, in fact, that such a thing exists, most men seem able to determine when their wives reach climax. They can tell us also, that by their perception, orgasm takes longer to elicit, it appears to be less frequent, and they perceive it as less intense than in uncircumcised women or even in clitoridectomized women.
While delay in arousal and orgasmic infrequency can often be more or less accurately perceived by a sex partner, we must nonetheless have some reservations regarding the validity of a lowered orgasmic intensity. Cultural prohibitions imposed on these women obviously play a part in what is perceived by the men reporting this.
The comparison is based, after all, on an observer’s perception. Ultimately, the only person that is able to judge the quality of an orgasm is the person who experiences it.
A surprisingly large percentage of women give glowing, highly credible descriptions of intense orgasmic experiences with their husbands. In these cases, the marriages are generally characterized by a high degree of sexual desire and intimacy.
Those women who report orgasmic difficulty or failure, on the other hand, almost invariably suffer from painful intercourse, depression, or anxiety. Their marital adjustment tends to be a poor one.
What can we learn from all of this? First of all the bad news: I truly wish that I could present you with some brilliantly cogent recommendations on how these cruel and mutilating rituals might be abolished with all due speed. Unfortunately, this is not within my power. Given the cultural context within which these ancient practices exist, I believe that it will continue to be exceedingly difficult to eradicate them. I do not visualize it happening within our lifetime and I very much hope that I am wrong. In time it may happen that the practitioners of these bloody rituals will gradually become convinced of their harmfulness, and that they will eventually abandon them. I have little doubt that before such a change can come about, the place of women in these societies will need to undergo considerable change. There is much work for us to do.
Ok, for the record, the above is horrific. Even the politically correct terms above used come nowhere near the actual reality of female genital mutilation — nor do more anatomically accurate terms frequently used such as, “Clitoral ablation,” “Excision,” and “Clitoridectomy.” And, it needs to be eradicated by whatever government force is needed to stop it.
But, it tells us something:
It tells us that all of the so-called experts who have claimed that the only orgasm available to women is one generated by the clitoris couldn’t be any more wrong.
Obviously, this kind of mutilation is going to make orgasm much more difficult and is unlikely to allow a woman the full range of responsiveness that would result in orgasms from other activities like riding and workouts but it does, once and for all, put down the myth that the clitoris is a woman’s only sex organ.
As much as the proof still sickens…Read more