Tuesday 15 November 2016

Upcoming talk at UCL - 'Genital alteration and gender equality: the future of policy' - Wednesday 23rd November

At UCL next week, I will present my research on gender and genital alteration. My talk is entitled 'Genital alteration and gender equality: the future of policy.' It is part of the Institute of Advanced Studies' Gender and Feminism Network's seminar series. 

In the talk, I will critique contrasting global policies toward female and male genital alteration. These policies focus on eliminating female genital mutilation, or FGM, while tolerating or even encouraging male circumcision. 

I will explain that, on the surface, this seems unproblematic: Within global health and human rights circles, FGM is almost universally regarded as a barbaric manifestation of the patriarchal drive to control female sexuality, whereas male circumcision is seen as benign. 

Yet, I will point to the mounting empirical evidence and ethical critique that calls into question these contrasting perceptions and policies.

I will argue that maintaining policies premised on sex-based distinctions seems unsustainable and incompatible with gender equality. Instead, I will suggest that meaningful age-based distinctions between those unable (children) and able (adults) to give informed consent could constitute better policy. 

I will evaluate the merits of permissive and restrictive approaches to female and male genital alteration, assessing the advantages of specific policies. In so doing, I will argue for gender equality in genital alteration policies.

My talk stems from a wonderful collaborative partnership with my brilliant bioethicist friend and colleague, Brian Earp. We spent last summer conducting research at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva on a project entitled 'The Science, Politics, and Ethics of Male Circumcision: An Interdisciplinary Take on an Emerging Global Controversy.'


Event details:

Date: Wednesday 23rd November
Time: 4:30-6:00 PM 
Location: IAS Seminar Room 19, First Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
For more information, see the Institute of Advanced Studies' event page here.