Confessions of a Circumcised Woman
|Photo © Joseph Lewis. View his full photo essay here: |
It was then that I knew it was time to step forward and to stop hiding. I am thirty years old. I am white, not Middle Eastern or from Sudan or Malaysia or of the Muslim faith. My father is Irish Catholic. My mother is a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism when she married my father. Both of my brothers are circumcised and my mother is adamant in her defense of their circumcision.
I step out of the shower and I stand in front of the mirror and I look like your average European American, pale skin, red hair, green eyes. I am not your average woman though.
I also have this vague and disturbing memory from when I was two and the most uncomfortable sexual feeling even at a young age around male doctors. When I married young to my now ex-husband on our honeymoon he said, "I have never seen a vagina like yours! It is amazingly perfect, too perfect, like something is missing." That too perfect vagina was most certainly missing something, and would cause me serious sexual issues that I chalked up to a sexual assault at the age of eighteen. If only I had know that it had been assaulted by a knife long before that perhaps I could have come to terms much sooner.
It was only as I was nearing my late twenties, had been divorced and had other sexual partners all of which commented in some way or another on the difference of my vagina, that I had an uncontrollable urge to dig deeper. Then at a well woman check up with my now favorite Ob/Gyn he told me or rather asked me why I was a circumcised female. He felt awful when he realized that I did not know and he had assumed I had consented to vaginal cosmetic surgery. As an aside I am happy to report that because of my experience and continued dialogue with him he is now against MGM (Male Genital Mutilation) a practice he used to support.
After months of demanding, digging, and putting my foot down I obtained the records from my birth that told me nothing but did lead me to my childhood pediatrician. Those records revealed the ghastly truth of a two-year-old girl circumcised at her mother's request. In sadness I confronted my mother and was adamantly told that she had always done what was best for her children and had no regrets but did not want to speak of it.
I made an appointment to speak to the now retired physician only to have him move away before I could speak with him. I am still searching for him. I know he was an old friend of my parents who also did my brothers' bris. Surely he will know why my mother would request such a thing for her daughter. My father remains largely silent on the issue. "You know your mother," is the only answer I receive from him.
When my son was born I was young, I had familial and societal pressure. But I did NOT allow him to be assaulted with a knife . As a mother all that was in me cried out to truly research and know that genital mutilation is not okay. And now I know that not only as a mother but also as a survivor of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) every instinct told me not to allow him to be cut.
I will speak out against MGM because just like those innocent baby boys my prepuce has been removed. Can I orgasm? Yes I can. Within about sixty seconds of sexual contact I orgasm. Sounds good right? WRONG. After I orgasm I experience oversensitive raw pain for the duration of the sexual contact. There is no hood to protect my clitoris. I may very well be the only woman out there who is looking for a partner who is a "one minute wonder" to spend the rest of my life with. Even now, years later, clothing, undergarments, contact... all of these irritate my overexposed clitoris. I also have to deal with the fact that if I choose to have a new sexual partner I will deal with the inevitable comments and questions which leave me feeling unattractive and just plain wrong down there.