FGM/MGM: Similar Attitudes & Misconceptions

The male (left) and female (right) clitoris/penis and prepuce are analogous and homologous organs throughout life. During the first trimester, they are also visually the same. Both are natural, normal, purposeful body organs that equally contribute to the health, functioning, and well-being of their owner.

The following chart highlights similarities in attitudes and misconceptions about MGM (male genital mutilation) in the United States and FGM (female genital mutilation) in Africa.

Comparison by Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, author of Secret Wounds
Clitoridectomy and Infibulation in Africa Infant Male Circumcision in the
United States
"She loses only a little piece of the clitoris, just the part that protrudes. The girl does not miss it. She can still feel, after all. There is hardly any pain. Women's pain thresholds are so much higher than men's."

"It's only a little piece of skin. The baby does not feel any pain because his nervous system is not developed yet."

"The parts that are cut away are disgusting and hideous to look at. It is done for the beauty of the suture."

"An intact penis is a real turn-off. It's disgusting. It looks like the penis of an animal."
"Female circumcision protects the health of a woman. Infibulation prevents the uterus from falling out [uterine prolapse]. It keeps her smelling so sweet that her husband will be pleased. If it is not done, she will stink and get worms in her vagina."

"An intact penis causes urinary infections and penile cancer. It generates smegma and smegma stinks. A circumcised penis is more hygienic and oral sex with an intact penis is disgusting to women."
"An intact vulva is unclean and only the lowest prostitute would leave her daughter intact. No man would dream of marrying an unclean woman. He would be laughed at by everyone."

"An intact penis is dirty and only the lowest class of people with no concept of hygiene leave their boys intact."
"Leaving a girl intact endangers both her husband and her baby. If the baby's head touches the uncut clitoris during birth, the baby will be born hydrocephalic [excess cranial fluid]. The milk of the mother will become poisonous. If a man's penis touches a woman's clitoris he will become impotent."

"Men have an obligation to their wives to give up their foreskin. An intact penis will cause cervical cancer in women. It spreads disease."
"A circumcised woman is sexually more pleasing to her husband. The tighter she is sewn, the more pleasure he has."

"Circumcised men make better lovers because they have more staying power than intact men."
"All the women in the world are circumcised. It is something that must be done. If there is pain, then that is part of a woman's lot in life."

"Men in the 'civilized' world are circumcised."
"Doctors do it, so it must be a good thing."

"Doctors do it, so it must be a good thing."
Sudanese grandmother: "In some countries they only cut out the clitoris, but here we do it properly. We scrape our girls clean. If it is properly done, nothing is left, other than a scar. Everything has to be cut away."

My own father, a physician, speaking of ritual circumcision inflicted upon my son: "It is a good thing that I was here to preside. He had quite a long foreskin. I made sure that we gave him a good tight circumcision."
35 year old Sudanese woman: "Yes, I have suffered from chronic pelvic infections and terrible pain for years now. You say that all if this is the result of my circumcision? But I was circumcised over 30 years ago! How can something that was done for me when I was four years old have anything to do with my health now?"

35 years old American male: "I have lost nearly all interest in sex. You might say that I'm becoming impotent. I don't seem to have much sensation in my penis anymore, and it is becoming more and more difficult for me to reach orgasm. You say that this is the result of my circumcision? That doesn't make any sense. I was circumcised 35 years ago, when I was a little boy. How can that affect me in any way now?"


  1. BRAVO! best blog post I have ever read

  2. I just read all of the articles you posted regarding MGM/FGM and it just breaks my heart.

    It's funny, even though I don't agree with either type of circumcision I realized I was bothered more by female circ than male circ.

    After seeing the comparison chart and the pics of gender/age and culture I see how my surroundings as an American still alters my perception of boys that are circ'd. I didn't realize I still thought that it was worse for girls.

    Love your work and passion for babies world wide. To know that women like you and my wife exist int he world instantly makes the world a better place. God Bless you, Danelle.

  3. It is yet another myth that women who have lived through FGM are unable to experience sexual pleasure or orgasm. Most, in fact, do experience both. And many women living in the U.S. who were victims of FGM as infants do not even know something was taken from them until they find out through childbirth exams or something similar. (A lot like men who were MGM victims and do not know anything is 'missing' until they talk with intact friends later in life).

    The most common form of FGM amputates much less than the most common form of MGM (as inflicted on babies in the United States). The prepuce in women is much smaller than the prepuce in men (as is the glans). Both are equally as wrong and violations of human rights, but both were also started in an attempt to reduce the normal sexuality (desire and pleasure) in men and women.

    Men who have lived through MGM have certainly lost a large part of their normal sexual functioning and ability to experience pleasure and orgasm as nature intended them to. And their partners, also, are not privy to sex as it was meant to be. When we drastically change the form of men's bodies, we also alter function.

    More on how MGM impacts sexual intercourse (especially as men and their partners grow older) and the many ways it impacts women's experience of sex can be found here:


    Especially, "A Change in How Intercourse Works" -


    The book "Sex as nature intended" is another:


    While FGM is absolutely horrific and should be banned right along side MGM world wide, it is actually MGM that impacts the form and functioning of sexual intercourse between heterosexual partners more than FGM does.

    One (FGM) mutilates the body of girls, while the other (MGM) mutilates the body of boys AND the experience of pleasure/orgasm/sensation for both parties involved while also changing the way sex is "done."

    There is a reason we see more anorgasmia (lack of orgasm) among women living in the United States with cut male partners than is found in any other (intact) nation in the world. Male circumcision hurts women too.

  4. Read this informative article.
    FGM and MGM are mutilation. Ignoring and promoting MGM while body shaming the foreskin is hyprocracy. It shouldnt be a discussion or comparison about which is worse or this one is ok. Mutilation is mutilation.



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