Re: braces?

Wed, 11 May 1994 11:19:18 PST

>OKeefe writes:
>" Infibulation is a means of controlling a resource, namely
>sexual access to women, ..."

I did not mean to imply that braces were exactly the same as infibulation, but
only to address
PART of the problem. There is no need to find an exact parallel in American
society if examples
can be found to refute all the arguments against it one by one (sorry that isn't
very clear).
Someone (I forget who) had argued that infibulation was bad in that it caused
pain to children
without their consent. I had an example of Americans doing that and thinking it
was normal. I
did not mean to ridicule infibulation.
Different people are making different arguments here as to why infibulation is
bad. The number
of arguments presented suggests to me that people are first thinking that it is
bad and then trying
to find arguments to support their position. This is not the stuff of which
objective scientific
thinking is made. Remember that the question is not really whether it is bad,
but whether it is
any of our business. Here are some of the arguments:

1) It causes pain so it is bad and we should stop bad things whenever we come
across them;
anything that causes pain is bad. [Braces cause pain].

2) A modified version of 1): It causes pain without any beneficial effect, so it
is bad. [Braces do
have a beneficial effect, but so does infibulation or people would not do it: it
allows people to fit
in better to their society, be thought of as respectable, and so forth. Who are
we to say that these
are less important than straight teeth?]

3) It causes pain to children who are not in a position to say no [so do braces;
I do not see an
argument that infibulation causes more pain as relevant; where are we going to
draw a line here?]

4) Women are coerced into doing it [women are not being tied up by men and
forced to do it (not
that I think we should necessarily interfere with that either); therefore they
are doing it of their
own free will. I don't see any way in which facelifts are less coerced.] (see,
you can use more
than one example, both facelifts and braces, to get a complete picture.)

I can't think of any other arguments that have been made right now. But the main
point still
seems to me to be that it is none of our business. I could see helping other
people with problems
they see as problems and ask for help with. I could see trying to convince them
that infibulation
is a problem. But to just tell them that it is a problem is patronizing.

Karen Eva Carr
History Department
Portland State University
Portland Oregon 97203
(503) 725-5472