Wait a minute…. Breast implants are mutilation??
Earlier this year the company that produces PIP breast implants filed for bankruptcy, women all over the world received the news that their breast implants may be filled with low-grade industrial silicone and more likely to rupture. These women had what they felt were safe medical devices from a company that had oversight from a regulatory body. In the aftermath the question was raised for what actions should be taken and who was responsible for those actions. Should the implants be removed, removed and replaced, left alone? Should the company pay, the governments, the clinics that preformed the surgery, the women who had surgery?
All these issues set aside, another notion came out. Articles started popping up correlating breast implant surgery to female genital mutilation. I will be looking at two of these articles today. The first is an article published on January 10, 2012 by Marianne Møllmann of Amnesty International. Ms. Mollmann has worked in women’s rights for over eight years. The second article was published January 16, 2012 by André Picard. Mr. Picard is a public health journalist and author.
I’d like to start with a few definitions.
Genitals- external sex organs
Mutilation the act of depriving an individual of a limb, member, or other important part. Also, the condition resulting therefrom.
Modification- A small alteration, adjustment, or limitation.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)- From the World Health Organization comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
In Ms. Mollmann’s article it states that “FGM is often justified with direct reference to fixed gender roles, in particular in the sexual realm. Women “should be” sexually passive and “should not” experience sexual pleasure. Or women who have not undergone FGM are “unclean” and cannot properly serve their husbands. In countries where many see marriage as a woman’s only possibility for financial security, the intervention is less of a choice, even when performed on adult women with their own outward consent. FMG is carried out solely to satisfy stereotyped notions of what a women could or should be, and which has:
- no discernible health benefits;
- a negative impact on women’s sexual health; and
- permanent effects on women’s health more generally.”
Then the article continues to state that breast augmentation surgery is performed for similar reasons with similar risks. Additionally, that “breast augmentation surgery is carried out solely to satisfy stereotyped notions of what women could or should be: sexually available and attractive to men.”
Say what?!?! Seriously? I don’t know about every woman who gets an augmentation but in my previous post Breast Implants~ Does Society Really Have Anything To Do With It? lists reasons for why women get an augmentation. As I stated there, 40% of augmentations are done for cosmetic reasons, 45% for medical deformities, and 15% to restore the breasts after breast-feeding, pregnancy, or weight loss. Out of these numbers, I can see how 40% could be taken as an attempt to be sexually attractive to men. But statistics provided by the Plastic Surgery Guide show that they typical woman who is choosing breast augmentation has been considering it for years, is in their early to mid thirties, and is married or involved in a long-term relationship. Sounds like they are really trying to conform to society to be more sexually available and attractive to men.
The second article directly references the first my Ms. Mollmann. This article really starts to take things to the deeper end by stating “both practices are driven by ingrained notions of a woman’s place in society, the quest for an ideal of beauty/sexuality and social/religious norms.”Great, let’s see some studies that document this. It continues with the notion that breast implants have “a negative impact on a woman’s sexual health, and permanent scars, physical and psychological.” Yes surgery leaves scars, but any woman having an augmentation knows that. But psychological scars and negative affects on sexual health? I’d love to see some studies that document this. A quick Google search reveals an article published by WebMd which was reviewed by an MD prior to publishing, and provides input from actual medical doctors and psychiatrists. One of the first things the article states is that “studies have shown that breast implants can help boost self-esteem, body image, and sexual satisfaction.” This completely contradicts the statements made by Ms. Mollmann in her article and later quoted by Mr. Picard. Additionally, the article provides a quote from David K. Wellisch, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “They simply are not happy with their bodies and wish to improve them. They have realistic expectations that if this is done, they will look more satisfying to their own eye and to others. But their self-esteem does not depend on it.” But (there is always a but) this article does talk candidly about when a breast augmentation is not done for the right reasons, when it is used to cover a larger psychological problem that eventually returns with full force. It is a well-rounded article that disproves some of the “facts” provided in both articles, while providing some substantiating information.
The article then details a bit of the history of breast augmentations, which is actually quite interesting. I’d love to look into that a little further, just for curiosity’s sake. The breast implants today are one of the most researched medical devices in the world (Dr. Edwards, Las Vegas, NV plastic surgeon). The article starts to conclude by stating that there is an estimated 10 million women world-wide that have implants. Mr. Picard feeds into an already incorrect stereotype stating, “in other words, breast implants have become normalized: It has become, in our consumerist society, natural to look unnatural.” Major incorrect assumption here! There is a media induced idea that breast implants look unnatural. Not all breast implants look like Chelsea Charms or Jodie Marsh. There is not a week that goes by where there are not claims about some starlet having an augmentation surgery.
Finally, Mr. Picard pulls out some flashy journalism language that ruins an already biased article. “Should we glibly accept the mutilation (or self-mutilation if you prefer) as normal? And, if so, are we not tacitly accepting the mutilation of women’s genitals more generally? Barbarism remains barbarism, even when it is regulated, and even when it is sugar-coated (or plastic-coated and sterilized).” I know that I find it highly offensive to see the reference of self-mutilation. I have not been deprived of a part of my body. It has been modified. Body modifications happen in many different forms, many of which are genital modifications. I do not see any articles stating that a clitoral piercing mutilation. And using the term barbarism? Barbarism referrers to primitive culture, which has never been civilized. Breast implants have come out of a changing culture. These inflammatory words only serve to get a reaction from the reader, not inform.
If you are considering breast implants please check the link below. Do your research and make the choice for yourself.
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