Other People’s Mutilation Is Funny

There seems to be a consensus among sophisticated modern women that castration is funny. It is true that men make castration jokes, but then again, some African-Americans call one another by the N Word, which emphatically does not mean that white people are allowed to. Moreover, in the mouth of some women, a castration joke sounds less like an anxiety-processing mechanism than a manifesto. We might also ask why there are no jokes about so-called “female circumcision”. Because, we would be told, involuntary genital mutilation is no laughing matter. No, it isn’t. Now can we have that in writing for next time women joke, in mixed company, about “Bobbitting” everyone inconvenient? Of course there is the difference that the little Somali girls are innocent of any wrongdoing while John Bobbitt was guilty of sexually importuning his wife; but in fact a man hardly needs to be guilty of such high crimes to attract this kind of humour.

Apart from jokes that sound like threats, castration features as a panacea for those who consider the male genitalia literally or symbolically responsible for all human evil, rather than just some of it. The corollary of that position is that any man who wishes to retain his equipment is deemed to be championing this human evil and upholding his personal right to commit more of it. Concern for the well-being of said equipment and sensitivity about any prospect of its forcible removal can thus be considered as a fresh Crime Against Humanity.

In this moral universe, any male political, social or emotional viewpoint may be summarily dismissed as being linked to the penis by either pride, envy or “castration anxiety”. Such a dismissal only works if such anxiety is considered an unworthy motivation. But why should that be? There is nothing inherently contemptible in not wishing to lose a reasonably important bodily part. Quite apart from the inability to have penetrative sex, castration causes difficulties with urination, a function that creates little in the way of war, ecological destruction and other oppression of women.

Just how reasonable it is to consider fear of genital mutilation inherently ludicrous may be tested by yet another thought experiment, this time of attributing inconvenient female political, social or emotional viewpoints to “masectomy anxiety” or “clitoridectomy anxiety”.

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  1. Written by urban
    on August 31, 2011 at 03:11

    Castration aside I find it fascinating that we don’t consider male circumcision to be mutilation. I think it clearly is. If it’s a mark of covenant with your imaginary god who has a strange sense of humor, fine. That’s your problem. But I don’t understand why I was mutilated since I come from a Roman Catholic heritage. It happened to be a medical fad at the time I was born and one still regularly hears the barbaric practice defended on medical grounds. That’s so bizarre. You might not wash the foreskin properly which could cause problems so let’s just cut it off! By that reasoning we should just routinely cauterize children’s ears to ward off infections.

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