American Female Genital Mutilation
An American woman shares about growing up, birth and genital mutilation.
|“||I was born in SD to very loving parents. When I was three years old my mother was concerned about the fact that I was masturbating, since she had read some place that it was the ultimate sin. She took me to doctor at a clinic in ND, who took me to a hospital in MN and removed my clitoris. My mother was at the end of the table. I remember the pain. I also remember knowing that I couldn't trust her anymore. I often have wondered why I always understood what had happened to me. As a health educator I helped develop a program for preparing children for surgery and found out from a childlife specialist that at age three the development stage is fear that some part of your body will be cut off because you were naughty and that did happen to me. Funny thing is about this, just like other sexual abuse when one has been abused, one tends to masturbate more. It became my way of dealing with a lot of issues. So when I was caught, I would always be told that this would make me crazy if I continued on. So I was very alone.
I also had a very strong personality and was told over and over that I should have been a boy. When I reached puberty I wondered just what did they cut off and was I really half male half female. How different was I?
I spent a lot of time with my brother. I remember when we were about 14 and 15 years old crawling up on top of the corn crib in the sunshine, chewing on cornstalks and talking about what was expected us in life. He didn't want to accept his role as a farmers son and I didn't want to become a teacher or nurse. Funny thing I am in the health field teaching. So together we were going to face the world in our own way. He went on to college to become a civil engineer and I began my freshman year in chemistry and then he drowned. I really fell apart. I felt like I lost the only person who really understood who I was. Although I had never spoken to him about the mutilation; I had only discussed this with my mother who had said that she thought it was a mistake. Never mentioned it to my sisters.
When I went back to college I began studying art and psychology and quit again because I began to try and deal with some of these issues. Shared my story once with a counsellor, who absolutely didn't know how to deal with it, so I stuffed it again.
Then I was married and had three children in less than three years. My deliveries were not easy. Second stage labor was stopped; I paced the floor for twelve or fourteen hours. I wanted a natural delivery but a nurse came in and said she was going to give me a hypo and I said I don't want it and she said it will just help you relax. Well it knocked me out; my child was born and I really came to two or four hours later. So I don't remember the delivery room experience at all.
About two months later a few weeks after my six weeks check up, I came back to the doctor and said that intercourse was really difficult. I have all these bumpy things and it is not working well. He brought me a mirror to show me how I looked and I said I know how I look. Well he said I thought you had a bicycle accident or something. I told him what happened. The continuing response from doctors is just blank as if I hear these stories everyday. Very few doctors show any emotion when they hear my story.
Then with my second child, my obstretician left the country. He didn't ever say goodbye to me and turned me over to another obstretician who kept suggesting to me that Masters and Johnson would love to get a hold over me and he would make the arrangements if I ever wanted to make some money that way. I didn't follow through on that.
Those deliveries weren't easy either. My second son was delivered and put in a basket and I was left in the stirrups and everyone left the two of us to go deliver another woman and my little boy was crying, and turning blue and I was still in the stirrups becaues I had a huge episiotomy that needed to be sewn up. I didn't have any of the closeness that one should experience in birth.
My third son was smaller; he came early. It was the closest that I remember experiencing delivery but he began urinating immediately and the doctor held him over my face. So my initiation to my son was to have urine in my face.
Later I thought wouldn't it be great to have another baby just to be in control of the birthing experience, but I didn't feel that was a way to bring a child into this world.After one day, we had moved to a small town, where we joined a church where woman were not allowed to vote. We lived cross corner from this church. I looked out at the stained glass windows one morning and just began to sob because I realized the church had some responsibility for what had happened to me. Then I began to share my story with pastors, often on deaf ears, some people were afraid of me. Only one clergy person said what a terrible thing to have happened to you. That was a gift.