Ann Althouse’s Inapt Analogy

Germaine Greer supports the “right” of “women” to undergo female genital mutilation; she supports this based on the existence of some women in Western countries who (to put it delicately) pierce places other than their ears.  (Via Insty.)

Ann Althouse defends Greer by saying that Greer is talking about the voluntary choices of grown women to engage in this cultural practise in a sterile hospital facility. (Here.)  Prof. Althouse writes,

I see Greer’s question as a call to examine our own prejudice and hypocrisy. It’s a fallacious move to tell us about coerced, unsterile surgery with a blunt instrument performed on a child. What a bad analogy! It’s like responding to an argument about consensual adult sex by acting like the topic is the rape of a child at knifepoint.

Except, of course, that analogy is terrible.  The vast majority of sexual experiences are between consenting adults. We can cogently discuss consensual sex between adults without discussing child rape because there is something meaningful, that happens quite frequently in the real world, to discuss.

On the contrary, almost all female genital mutilation is performed on girls and young women who are too young to consent to such a procedure.   It is the exception for these procedures to be performed on a consenting adult. (Aside from the fact that we generally don’t allow minors to consent to medical procedures, a young girl is particularly ignorant of what she is losing through FGM.  Even kids can understand “dead” or “not dead,” if the question is an appendectomy, but they cannot understand the concept of sexual satisfaction as it relates to romance, sexuality, and a relationship.)  To speak about FGM is almost always to speak about coerced FGM; to speak of consent as it if is normal is plainly incorrect.

That renders Althouse’s rebuttal irrelevant, and Greer’s comments, asinine and cruel.


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