Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Genital Mutiliation

The subject of genital mutilation came up in my anthropological studies from time to time and in the context of protests about non-consensual clitorectomies. Some folks engage in some pretty bizarre (to me, at least) modifications of their original equipment. The issue rarely comes up in conversation lately, but I have recently learned that my own brother makes a good part of his living from genital mutilation right here in America. In Red State, “Buckle of the Bible Belt” Georgia, he does a thriving business in, among other things, piercing and mutilating both male and female genitalia.

I probably should not be surprised that genital mutilation, that I once believed belonged to the province of primitives, is fairly common in 21st Century America. My own parents subjected me to circumcision as an infant (my mother claims that she was never asked and that it was the default to circumcise babies at that time). Thanks for the reduced sensitivity and sexual pleasure, Mom and Dad. Most of the guys I have showered with (gym class, Army, etc) have also been “helmets” rather than “anteaters”. So male genital mutilation is clearly no big deal.

My brother is paid to perform a procedure known as a “Prince Albert” (I don’t know why His Highness is implicated in this) which, to the extent that I was able to listen to its description, involves insertion of a tube into the urethra and poking a spike through the penis. This is said to enhance sexual pleasure for both partners, presumably once the healing process runs its course. The main down side, besides having anything in your urethra and the spike through the penis, is that the man will have to sit down to urinate for the rest of his life. Apparently, this is the warning that most often deters my brother’s would be clients from having the procedure done. For me, it is the urethra and spike thing. The amazing thing to me is that my brother’s shop performs the Prince Albert procedure all the time, and other tattoo parlors also do this. There are thousands of men running around with spikes through their penises! There are thousands more saving up for the big day when they can get theirs done.

Women get their fair share of genital mutilation. Labial tattoos and piercings are common. Clitoral rings are all the rage. According to my brother, the Georgia legislature proposed a bill to ban female genital mutilation and included clitoral piercing in the definition. Thanks to the tireless lobbying of countless mullet headed, flannel wearing lesbians, that part of the bill was defeated, and Georgians retained their god given right to have holes poked in their clitorises.

According to my brother, his clients are not drunk or high on meth or anything when they come in for genital mutilation. He will not work on an intoxicated person at all. They have thought the whole thing through and have decided that their original equipment could be improved upon.


James said...

It's called a Prince Albert because Prince Albert apparently had one, thus the constant smile on young Victoria's face...

You only have to sit down to pee for the first couple of weeks, too.

Believe it or not, I thought about it for about two years before I got one. Can't really explain why I did it, though. Weird really. (But then I got one before everybody and their brother were getting them.)

My wife, and the women I knew before her, had nothing but nice things to say about it though, and I am much more sensitive....

Hope I didn't make you wince!

Vache Folle said...

James, thanks for the testimonial. I have no objection to the PA and hope my brother mutilates a million penises before he is done. I just have a real issue with the idea of anything in my own penis. I dread a catheter or the inevitable transurethral resection of my prostate.

No wonder Her Majesty mourned so long after her husband died.

James said...

I have to admit, it was probably about 10 seconds of the worst pain I have ever consciously felt in my entire life...

But, I think, after that, fear of physical pain has never seemed so much of a barrier to me doing other things as it used to (not that I'm an extreme naked bungee jumper or anything...).