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“Born Complete”: International Hypocrisy Day 2019

February 7, 2019

by Georganne Chapin

On Wednesday, February 6, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) rolled out — with much digital fanfare — International Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation.”

After scanning the promo, I’m inspired to suggest a few alternative monikers. How about International Zero Tolerance Day for Genital Mutilation (unless You’re a Boy, in which Case You’re Out of Luck)? Well, that’s probably too many words, so how about International Cultural Blindness Day? Or, better yet, International Hypocrisy Day? Let me explain.

On a polished new website for its “Born Complete” campaign, UNFPA decries the cultural practice of cutting girls as “reflect[ing] deep-rooted inequality between the sexes.” Really?

It’s good to hate FGM, and it’s essential to protect girls from the practice. It’s also irrefutable that many women around the world have less freedom and opportunity than their male counterparts. But to condemn FGM on the grounds that it constitutes sex discrimination is truly mystifying, given the nearly universal circumcision of boys in countries where FGM is practiced.

Particularly hypocritical and galling to me is the fact that my own country is the largest non-Muslim boy-cutting nation in the world: although the numbers are slowly falling, more than one million boys born each year in U.S. hospitals are sexually mutilated within a few days of their birth (and only a handful of those surgeries are carried out as religious rituals).


Yet, the United States of America is blithely and uncritically on board with the UN’s claim that FGM constitutes sexual discrimination. This is corroborated by the current push by (mostly female) state legislators to implement laws declaring it a crime to cut only the genitals of girl children for non-medical reasons. This trend has accelerated in the wake of a Michigan court dismissing charges against a female doctor who performed minor genital-altering surgery on three young girls whose immigrant parents solicited the procedure. Incidentally, the dismissal was based on the judge’s ruling that the federal anti-fgm law is unconstitutional – NOT because it implicitly exempts boys from protection, but because it attempts to regulate activities that properly belong under the jurisdiction of the states.

I do believe it’s only a matter of time before there will be a court challenge to the state FGM laws as discriminating against boys and intersex children. I’m less sure when the international human rights establishment will start to celebrate “Born Complete” and being “intact” (am I being petty to complain that the UN appropriated this term from the American intactivist movement?) as applying to all children.

But those are topics for another day. In the meantime, hypocrisy rules!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. John Adkison permalink
    February 10, 2019 1:30 pm

    Thank you Georganne! We just have to figure out how to get it to become common knowledge. We have dozens of websites, books and organizations along with an excellent documentary that is widely distributed, but it still seems as though the popular opinion differs. We still need more.

    • February 11, 2019 8:30 am

      It’s happening, John. Awareness is accelerating, and — just like all successful American human rights movements — intactivism will reach a tipping point when somewhere around a quarter of the U.S. population comes to believe that the intact male body is just fine and that it makes more sense to leave boys alone than to cut them. Georganne

  2. February 8, 2019 9:36 pm

    Thank you, Georganne!!!

  3. Peer Bech Hansen permalink
    February 8, 2019 2:13 pm

    In fact, the hypocrisy is extreme in this case, as UN/UNICEF are actively working at rolling out Male Genital Mutilation at large scale in Africa.

    Have a look at this disturbing article:

  4. February 8, 2019 11:14 am

    Thank you, Georganne, for introducing simple logic to point out that what is true concerning female genital mutilation is equally true for male genital mutilation. I can’t help wondering if a mix of masculine ego, propaganda concerning the “dangers” of having a foreskin, and a desire to maintain the financial bottom line this practice provides American hospitals add up to an inability within our medical establishment to see the hypocrisy of this rationalization of a new FGM policy.

  5. Joseph permalink
    February 7, 2019 10:18 pm

    Thanks, Georganne. Speaking a male intactivist born on this date, it feels like the universe trying to rub salt on the wound…

    • February 8, 2019 1:23 am

      I know what you mean, Joseph. But let’s keep on keeping on. GC

  6. Sarah Rouse Cooney permalink
    February 7, 2019 9:57 pm

    Excellent post Georganne. Well said! When I saw the zero tolerance day roll out yesterday in social media I was so annoyed at the hypocrisy that I just had to physically walk away without looking at it in any great detail – I hadn’t even noticed the references to ‘intact’ and ‘complete’! I would like to hope that it is a good sign that they are now appropriating these phrases. Shows intactivism is having an impact and is seeping into the consciousness of people.

    As for presenting FGM as sex discrimination this plays right into our hands! The rush by states to pass FGM legislation in the wake of the ruling against the Fed law is going to be interesting. Nerve wracking but interesting…

    • February 8, 2019 1:24 am

      Sarah – I join you in hoping the terminology is a good sign. GC

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