Is intimate surgery a form of female circumcision?

Can you call labiaplasty a form of female genital mutilation, as the organization against female circumcision GAMS does? They both originate from the idea that a woman's body is not naturally proper...

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Is intimate surgery a form of female circumcision? - NewsMavens
Hairdresser, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been all over the news lately.  But now some cite a link between labiaplasty and FGM, as both concepts are based on the idea that the (female) body needs to be "corrected". Nevertheless, it seems excessive to compare FGM with labiaplasty, because the latter is a personal choice taken by women for cosmetic reasons.

Also, FGM is considered as a crime, and labiaplasty is not. So far. But the increasing number of labia corrections follows an international trend and, as the article below discusses, shows that one thing is absolutely needed: better education for the general public and a realistic body image for young girls, including a realistic image of labia. In most cases, women are unhappy with their vagina because of esthetic reasons.

Adult women are free to decide if they need/want/can afford cosmetic surgery, but we all ought to fight unrealistic beauty standards.

Let's not forget the sexual consequences. "How can you enjoy sex if you're so ashamed of your own body?" an expert is quoted saying. 

Were does 'vagina-shaming' come from?

  • After the global movement "She Decides" was launched, Belgian Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) was one of the first leaders to stand up and protect female rights and stop FGM.
  • If too many young women are embarrassed by their vagina, we urgently have to reset the standards and invest in a debate about genital image. "There's no reason why a 40-year old woman should look like a 16-year old down under," one doctor says.
  • "We all want to be sexually normal, but the fact is that nobody knows the real normal anymore," sexologist Goedele Liekens says.
  • Multinationals make big money on bodyshaming, specially among teenage girls. To pursue an ideal concept of beauty, some girls and women are prepared to go very far.  



Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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