The Rape of Innocence: Female Genital Mutilation & Circumcision in the USA - Book Review

Book Review - The Rape of Innocence: Female Genital Mutilation & Circumcision in the USA - by Patricia Robinett, Nunzio Press, Eugene, Oregon, Revised Edition, pps. 148, 2010

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

"The genital cutting of both girls and boys was introduced in the USA in the late 1800s....
Blue Cross Blue Shield paid for clitoridectomies until 1977."

- Patricia Robinett in ,The Rape of Innocence

The Rape of Innocence is about a practice which was once touted as a cure for masturbation. In the United States circumcision remained in vogue for many years and resulted in irreparable grief for many of its victims. My own circumcision was also the result of misguided medical advice, as a physician recommended it to cure my early bed wetting, a symptom probably secondarily associated with separation trauma when I began school at age five. I was terrified on that first day of school; my mother remained in the classroom for part of that day.

While reading Robinett's book, I thought of physician, J. H. Kellogg's, Plain Facts for Young and Old. My copy was published in 1889. It prominently dealth with circumcision as a remedy for both male and female masturbation. The author had also discovered Kellogg's book and quotes from it. This volume is in my book collection and remains a treasure trove of antiquated/useless/harmful medical advice. Kellogg seems obsessed with the subject as he devotes a ridiculous amount of space in his large book to the pernicious effects of masturbation.

Here are some choice symptoms which Dr. Kellogg compiled for parents to be on the lookout for and which may be evidence of "self abuse" practices of their children (pps. 249-260):

General debility, Early symptoms of consumption, Premature and defective development, Sudden change in disposition, Lassitude, Sleeplessness, Failure of mental capacity, Fickleness, Untrustworthiness, Love of solitude, Bashfulness, Unnatural boldness, Mock piety, Easily frightened, Confusion of ideas, Aversion to the society of girls, Round shoulders, Weak backs, pains in the limbs and stiffness of the joints, Paralysis of the lower extremeties, Guilt, Bad positions in bed, Lack of development of the breasts in females after puberty, Capricious appetite, Extreme fondness for unnatural, hurtful, and irritating foods, Eating clay, plaster, chalk and other indigestible articles, Disgust for simple food, Using tobacco products, Unnatural paleness and colorless lips, Acne or pimples on the face, Biting the fingernails, Eyes lack lustre and natural brilliancy, Moist and cold hands, Palpitation of the heart, Hysteria in females, Chlorosis or green sickness, Epileptic fits, Wetting the bed and Unchastity of speech.

The author, a clinical hypnotherapist, allows us to accompany her as she begins to learn the source of her childhood obsession with suicidal death wishes which were present from her early childhood. As a regressive therapist she learned that memories are not lost but rather that the traumatic ones are simply stored away - being ordinarily not available for recall. She met a very kind couple who were "healers" and being a "wounded healer" herself knew right away that Kathy could help her access those early memories. It took some months to arrive at the real source of her pain, but as her choking and tears began, so did her healing.

Her mother, a WWI English war bride, had been an abusive parent. Mama was undoubtedly depressed and shared her feelings with her daughter thusly: "I wish I was dead" and "I wish you were never born." Once the author had decided to commit suicide by plunging a kitchen knife between her ribs, but in the kitchen, the knives which could have been used, were out of her reach. Later she had become convinced that there was existence after death and realized that she would feel just as miserable in the hereafter, so she gave up active thoughts of suicide.

The reader follows the author as the repressed material of her own past strove to be felt. The word "circumcision" had been inexplicably packed with great emotional significance for her, but she never knew why. She would become speechless upon hearing the word. Finally, one day she summoned up the courage to look up the word on the internet and opened up a new phase in her life. Her repressed memories were trying to tell her something. She became unconsciously drawn into the study of all aspects of circumcision and was once told by a male friend that it was inappropriate for a woman to be interested in and writing about circumcision - that she should read and write about breast cancer instead!

One day she was drawn into physically searching for her clitoris as she had read on the internet that the clitoris was analogous to the penis. Being unable to find her clitoris even with help from bright lamps, she consulted an Ob-Gyn physician who assured her that, although it was a tiny one, she definitely had a clitoris.

She tried an even more determined search but, once again, she was unable to locate that unknown, mysterious part of her anatomy. She even had her vision checked by an optometrist. . . Her vision was normal. She felt herself to be a victim of a conspiracy of many beginning with mama and had been subjected to a lifelong denial and suppression of her truth and reality. The author then realized that she had been subjected to overwhelming abuse. . . surpassing even what she could have imagined. There is much to be learned from, The Rape of Innocence. I recommend its reading.

A man's account of his awakening to the reality of the effects of his circumcision through a regressive episode:

". . . I just breathed into it, and before long I entered what's like a 3-D movie. I felt the presence of big people, and feelings of excitement, somehow shrounded with religiousness. It remind me of the vibe in the Temple where I was Bar-Mitzvahed. . . . I felt very little, cradled in large hands. . . I felt the total-body sense of trust as my arms and thighs were strapped to the table top. . . . And then the horrible pain! The bearded man had grabbed my penis, swabbed it with something very cold, and then cut into me! . . . Agonizing hurt. How could I ever relax in the presence of others again?

I've reflected on my circumcision experience many times since that (therapy) session. How tragic that we humans can inflict pain subconsciously that we even celebrate it with feelings like pride or patriotism. How can we be so oblivious to the pain of others? I think about how we wage war, and rationalize all the misery that comes with it. I have a whole different view about senseless pain now that I've felt what it's like to be the innocent object of it."
-- quoted from therapist and registered nurse, Andy-Bernay Roman's book, Deep Feeling, Deep Healing

"V" wrote:

I have had an amazing result using your re-directing emotions technique. Here's the background information: When I was four years old my mother had seen me masturbating while I was sitting on the toilet. She then poured a whole bottle of rubbing alcohol on my genitals.

The pain was unbelievable. And it stayed and stayed because she didn't wash it off. Since then I have not been able to touch myself there without feeling a burning. But with all this redirecting of feelings I have been doing, last night while I was reading I touched myself, and guess what!? No burning! No pain! It was gone.

You can tell people. . . about what my mother did to me. Because I have wished for 52 years to be able to touch myself without having the burning, and last night I finally could. And I know I could because of you, Ellie, and your self-help measures."


-- from the article, Using the Van Winkle Re-Directing Feelings Technique to Resolve Anxiety and Depression

Read a book review of Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma, authored by Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.

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