New York Times Editor Calls For The Dropping Use Of “Female Genital Mutilation” As A “Culturally Loaded” Term

This week it was revealed that a New York Times editor has decided that the newspaper should not use the term “female genital mutilation” as “culturally loaded” and might insult “people who follow the rite.”  It is the culmination of a trend across the country where students are being trained to spot and avoid any form of cultural bias, a push that can be highly beneficial or highly damaging in how one defines bias. At the risk of total social isolation, it may be time to speak in favor of cultural bias, at least when it comes to founding principles of human rights.

Health and Science editor Celia Dugger said that she gained an appreciation for “genital cutting” after a  trip to Africa in the 1990s.  She came to understand that people in the area did not view this as mutilation.

The West is rapidly embracing notions of cultural relativity – rejecting any statements that might be viewed as judging the culture or practices of others. There is a rejecting of any objective truth in judging other cultures. That rejection of objectivity reached its zenith this week with the New York Times. It cannot be said that forcing girls into clitoridectomy is grotesque and abusive. That would be culturally loaded and who is to say that it is really wrong. To be wrong, there must be some objective truth, which is rejected as a cultural artifact.

Truth is now viewed as a loaded and subjective notion. To suggest that there are inherent truths (as embodied in our Declaration of Independence and other founding documents) is merely an exercise of privilege and dominance. Indeed, Western culture is now generally condemned while other cultures are treated as inherently meaningful and valid.

The movement to understand and respect other cultures can sometimes mutate into a rejection of any notion of our own cultural truths and beliefs. We can no longer express revulsion at FGM – a facially harmful and barbaric form of abuse.

We have had too many abuses to mention from slavery to sexism to homophobia. We have confronted those abuses and continue to do so. However, if there is no objective truth and all values are equal, there is no baseline or foundation for measuring freedom. Indeed, freedom becomes just another quaint concept of the culturally invested.

Of course, when Martin Luther King said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” he was presuming that there was some objective truth. Indeed, he believed that there was some definable morality that was not culturally dependent. If all morals and practices are equal, there is no arc or evolutionary curve but only a series of isolated points of different cultures. To put it simply, I do not believe that cultural practices (like people) are created equal and are endowed with certain unalienable Rights. Before we become cultural relativists, we should consider what we are giving up.

97 thoughts on “New York Times Editor Calls For The Dropping Use Of “Female Genital Mutilation” As A “Culturally Loaded” Term”

  1. We have had too many abuses to mention from slavery to sexism to homophobia.

    One of these is not like the others. Both ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia’ are nonsense terms incorporated into the rhetorical games of political sectaries.

    Scratch a soi-disant ‘libertarian’ collecting a salary from an academic institution, you find someone largely at home with the culture and assumptions of other faculty and deferential to their prejudices. A Soviet dissident once said that if you had exceptional status, you could play at being a dissident while actually being a member of the establishment (listing Andrei Voznesensky and Yevgeny Yevtuschekno as prime examples), Faculty libertarians are our Voznesenskys.

  2. I read what the Times editor is reported to have said about the matter. May I suggest female appropriate razor-to-genital touching as a more delicate phrase. Struggle snuggle could replace rape for those of too delicate a sensibility and one-stroke shave/haircut for decapitation. What the editor seems to be missing besides a portion of her humanity is the need to communicate the facts of the case.

    I wonder how this editor would describe the excision by an ancient Aztec of the living heart of an unwilling votary for the purpose of getting the sun to rise for the rest of the growing season? Open heart surgery? Perhaps this editor would do well to reread the clause in the Constitution that forbids “cruel and unusual punishments” by an agency of the state. Maybe she thinks that right belongs to the individual. Would she volunteer for this practice without anesthetic to inform the public in the tradition of the people’s right to know? Would she offer up a daughter to the practice to demonstrate her commitment to cultural diversity and the harmlessness of the practice?

  3. Sick misguided woman and the New York Times wonders why it’s subscriptions keep getting castrated.

    Does she think that Indians should still practice scalping?

    SPONSOR ALERT: “Birds Eye” to remove all ads from the NYT’s Health and Science section.

  4. The understanding of cultural differences compels neither the suspension of reason nor the acceptance of ignorance. Ms. Dugger is unsuited for her position.

  5. Both clitorectomy and circumcision are stone age barbaric practices. They should be disallowed on children under 18 except for medical reasons.

    To allow EITHER for religious reasons or cultural reasons is just plain wrong. If someone wants either their love button or their foreskin removed as a religious rite, let them make that decision for themselves as adults.

    If a religious sect invented nipple removal for boys as a religious rite, would it be allowed? If a previously unknown sect was discovered to have used this practice for millennia, would it be allowed?

    Isn’t it time to stop allowing religions to mutilate children?

    1. Clitorectomy and circumcision are not comparable. A clitorectomy in a female is the equivalent of castrating a male.

  6. Do we call circumcision a “mutilation”? It is also a religious practice, and any involvement by the government to regulate it will result in fierce debate. The Times is only recognizing that. The use of “cutting” is not a distortion of the truth here.

    1. Male circumcision is entirely different from FGM. Removing the foreskin stills leaves a male fully functional sexually. Removing the clitoris destroys a female’s sexual feelings.

      1. What do you think of nipple removal for male babies? They are unneeded. The Church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn has this a rite. Would you allow this?

  7. The liberal progressives opened Pandora’s box with issues like gay marriage, gender identity and such. We are constantly being told that we are not allowed to judge or hold to our values or hold anyone to a standard. This is anther attack on my “discriminate and judgement” diatribe. So, the NYT makes sense.

    1. Spoken like a true homophobe, as if FGM doesn’t actually derive from religious bunk.

      1. Spoken like a true name caller who claims to be tolerant but can’t accept someone might think differently than them. The fact is, i could care less bout what people do. It’s the agenda and forcing people to lose their freedom to discriminate that bothers me. But keep your head in the sand about they path we are taking. From there you should have a good view of the roots of the seeds that have been planted.

          1. Nope, like I wrote, I really don’t care what people do unless they are asking for special treatment to force people to accept what they do thus removing their rights to think differently.

  8. Words matter…. The article doesn’t say she ‘gained appreciation for’ anything… she merely ‘concluded’.

    Health and Science editor Celia Dugger said she came to the conclusion to refer to the act of removing the female genitalia of young girls as “genital cutting” during a trip to Africa in the 1990s. She spoke about her decision in a Times mailbag article in response to a reader’s question.

    Agree or disagree, sure makes more sense to me than the words professor Turley seems to be putting in her mouth?!

    For all I know the Times changed the article, but if not, this is just shameful rabble-rousing.

      1. Thank you, because multiple searches did not reveal this link… and even following the NYT link in the FOX report leading to the story of 4/13 in the Times of the Lavonia MI events did not…

  9. “Health and Science editor Celia Dugger said that she gained an appreciation for “genital cutting”

    I never say this but fire her. Now. Gained an appreciation? There is no level that you can get an appreciation for this act of barbarism. This person needs to be fired before she can damage society.

  10. The problem with the Turley article is that it criticizes the NYTs on the basis of a Fox News article. The Fox News article references one NYT article that uses the term cutting rather than FGM. But nowhere is there a reference to the actual article in which Dugger or the NYT actually explain their reasoning for the policy on the use of the term ‘cutting’.

    While there are quotes from Editor Dugger, there is no reference to the actual article in which she fully explains her reasoning. Apparently there was an entire article in which Dugger explained her experiences working against FGM and her decision to use the term ‘cutting’. But we do not see a reference to that article in the Fox or Turley articles.

    Some of the out of context quotes from Dugger do sound as though she is advocating a non judgmental approach to the cultural practice of FGM. However, some of her out of context quotes also make it clear that she advocates against FGM and uses the term ‘cutting’ because it facilitates dialog to practitioners of FGM for the purposes of changing their minds.

    The Turley and Fox articles make it impossible to fairly evaluate Dugger’s comments or the NYTs policy. If the point of Dugger’s position and the NYT policy is to facilitate engaging practitioners to limit the practice of FGM, then it seems to me that it is hard to criticize the NYTs or Dugger.

    1. What kind of dialogue does anyone need to facilate people that mutilate little girls genitals? The only dialog is do it period and you spend life in prison. This isn’t a rite. This isn’t something that can be discussed.

      1. “The only dialog is do it period and you spend life in prison. This isn’t a rite. This isn’t something that can be discussed.”

        Unless you are prepared to send in enough marines to secure their country, you have to discuss it and change their minds.

        Shoot them or talk to them – you decide.

        1. Shoot them.

          And this health and science editor was talking specifically about the case in America. And why she feels a dialogue can be started by calling it cutting instead of what it is.

    2. So Turley writes an excellent article about the loss of objective truth and this nonsense of cultural appropriation and you’re stuck on defending the NYT and Dugger?

      1. “So Turley writes an excellent article about the loss of objective truth and this nonsense of cultural appropriation and you’re stuck on defending the NYT and Dugger?”

        The Turley article criticizes on the basis of statements made by Fox news. It does not allow us to fairly evaluate the position of Dugger or the NYT.

        So yes, everyone, what ever they might have said, deserves to be evaluated on the basis of what they actually said not what some cultural warrior at Fox said they said.

        It is essential to recognize that neither Dugger, the NYT nor I am defending FGM – something that so many on this blog seem to have overlooked.

        BTW, it is never ‘execellent’ to criticize someone on the basis of what someone else said they said – that is a major flaw.

        1. Isn’t every news article “what someone else said they said”? So, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be valid as well.

          1. “Isn’t every news article “what someone else said they said”? So, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be valid as well.Isn’t every news article “what someone else said they said”? So, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be valid as well.”

            There is a huge difference between a news article written on the basis of what a person said in comparison with a new article written on the basis of what a third party, in this case Fox News, claims they said.

            I will be happy to be responsible for my words or your accurate statement of my words. I have no responsibility for what Fox news claims I said.

            And I would go further and claim that it is completely irresponsible to criticize someone on the basis of what a third party claims they said – especially a third party that has a financial interest in creating controversy.

  11. Unlike foreskin removal there is no medical need I can think of nor found so the question reverses to “Where the hell is the big time womans movement when you really need them to stop this torture of young girls?”

  12. Slavery is practiced in Africa and many parts of the world. Does the NYT defend the institution of slavery as a cultural prerogative? After all, it’s been in existence in Africa and the Middle East continuously for thousands of years. And if slavery is okay where it is part of that country’s culture, I suppose that American blacks have nothing to complain about, at least according to the NYT.

  13. Dugger and NYT are ignorant. FGM is illegal in most of the countries where it is still practiced. It’s so
    condescending then to give cultural deference to FGM, while the legislators who made it illegal are to be ignored. What a mixed up jumble.

  14. I suppose mutilating girl’s genitals and causing a lifetime of complications is something the New York Times supports. Why doesn’t it go all the way and put a full page ad advocating FGM and its benefit to women and girls of the world.

    Oh and so much culture to be preserved. I suppose the culture of ISIS of burning Christians to death and throwing gay people off buildings should not be called murder because it is culturally loaded.

    A suggestion to the Times. Get off your high horse of self congratulation by proffering yourselves as being the front runner of social progress. You have miserably failed in printing this outrage. Perhaps your editors need to get out of your echo chamber and watch a video of a young girl screaming in agony while her clitoris is cut out. But you pride yourself as being a champion of liberal causes. So if this is what constitutes decency, your moral compass has reversed its polarity.

    Ms. Dugger, who I assume is a very educated person, in my view proves Cipolla’s 2nd Fundamental Law of Stupidity:

    “The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.”

  15. At one point I thought there would come a time the Academy would implode and there would be a movement to reject post modernist theory, deconstructionism and all the corresponding marxism.

    Now I am not so sure since the University has found a way to suckle massive dollars from the taxpayer to support bureaucrats that amplify and benefit from this insanity.

    Military industrial complex has little on the University in this regard.

  16. But it is mutilation, and causes lifelong pain. Euphemisms like “female circumcision” give the false impression that this is merely cosmetic, or hygienic, and harmless. It is often done with no anesthesia, with a thorn in some parts of Africa, the girls all walk for weeks “like they are holding a ball between their knees” is the common phrase, intercourse will cause zero pleasure and excruciating pain forever, and if it’s severe, the wedding knife will require the services of a woman with a knife to make consummation possible, if excruciating, for the bride. There is high maternal mortality because the scar tissue is not conducive to child birth (but, hey, women are worthless anyway and they can just replace them), and there are a slew of other health consequences.

    It is a paradox that the feminists embrace cultural relativity and excuse the subjugation and torture of our sisters under the banner of religion. They howl about the fabricated “war on women” based on politics, but they hammer on female conservatives, and inexplicably enable behavior such as FGM and the veil.

    I call a spade a spade. This practice is anti-woman, and Celia Dugger just legitimized and defended one of the most egregious tortures of girls as young as 5 as I can think of. Shame on her.

    1. Perhaps we will go the way of Sweden, where hate speech laws prohibit the criticism of religions like Islam, and offense is punishable by law.

    1. I have been contemplating the revival of cannibalism – eat the rich – but, alas, too much fat for good nutrition!

    2. To rationalize female genital mutilation because “cultures” once believed in human sacrifice is a stupid comparison. FMG affects over 200 million girls and women alive today. The procedure is inhumane and results in life long physical and emotional consequences for its victims. The World Health Organization states it is a human rights violation.
      It is performed on girls so young it is impossible for them to give consent. No one has the right to mutilate the body of a female child–it belongs to her. The practice evolved from men’s ancient fear of a woman’s sexuality and their desire to control it by destruction of female genitalia. Perhaps Docile Jim Brady would be less culturally sensitive if during childhood his penis was cut off.

    1. So … an unnecessary appendage with no survival value that will be selected out in future generations – much like the appendix or tonsils?

      1. S. Fromm: Like a Chinese dinner, sex is not over until everyone gets their cookies.

  17. Would Ms. Dugger be willing to undergo FGM? Or force her daughters or sisters or nieces or cousins or friends to undergo the process? Seriously? The NYT should be ashamed of itself. So does cultural relativism make it okay to execute gay men for being gay? Toss them off tall buildings? Is it okay to force a woman to marry her rapist, or maybe even stone her to death for adultery? ‘Cuz, you know, cultural relativism. How’s about flogging a woman for taking off her niqab in public? The left is really messed up.

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