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Breast Ironing

July 24, 2010

I don’t really read the Huffington Post, but last night my attention was grabbed by one of their headlines: Teenage Girls Undergo ‘Breast Ironing’ In Cameroon. Breast ironing is the action of using a hot stone to press the breast down and stop them from growing. Girls all over the world are reaching puberty earlier and earlier and as a means to prevent rape and teenage pregnancies mothers in Cameroon have adopted breast ironing as a safety measure. Girls as young as nine years old will have their breasts ironed to prevent them from growing.

There are obvious psychological and physical ramifications to undergoing breast ironing. Physical trauma such as burns, abscesses and deformed breasts are a common consequence of the procedure. The emotional trauma in my opinion can be even more scarring and can result in a host of psychological issues in regards to your body and sexual health.

I think it would be easy to look at breast ironing and think of it as a wrong-oh-so-wrong practice and leave it at that, but to me the most glaring truth here is that put simply, these are mothers trying to protect their daughters. I know that I would want to protect (my imaginary) nine-year old from rape and if binding her growing breast seemed like a viable option I might just give a thought or two. I think that any mother in her right mind would do just about anything to prevent her child from sexual abuse. Wouldn’t you?

The real issue here is the very real fear of rape and much-needed implementation of sex education, and not just in Cameroon, but all over the world. Sex education is only a small part of our high school curriculum here in Canada and I can only assume that it’s not much better anywhere else. Sex education needs to be an ongoing process and it should also be introduced at a much earlier age. I’ve been thinking more and more lately of actually getting a degree in human sexuality and perhaps attempting to do something about the state of sex education in our schools.

What do you think, would you let me teach your kids?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Janvanize permalink
    July 24, 2010 9:21 pm

    I would let you reform the sex education program, but as for have you in a room full of kids hmmm i dunno bout that 😛

    All jokes aside I have an incredible amount to share on the subject but what I will say is that you hit it bang on with the fact that the lack of education is the most leading cause of sexual abuse around the world and second is poverty.

    Other is that one could argue that you can’t really say it’s wrong because of the intentions of their actions. It’s like genital mutilation, they do have the best intentions for doing that to their daughters, for them it’s not wrong … even though I personally think, as you say, that it’s “wrong-oh-so-wrong”!!

    I think i think i’m going to study that too, but prolly more on the sociological side of it.

  2. July 24, 2010 9:48 pm

    Ah, come on, I would be great with kids. At least teenagers and I would promise not to swear.

    I don’t know much about the reasoning behind genital mutilation, so I might be wrong here and if I am please correct me, but I feel that’s it’s different in intention. It seems to me that removing a women’s external genitalia is done for the sole purpose of depriving her of sexual pleasure as opposed to breast ironing, which is about depriving “the men” of a visual pleasure/cue that might induce them to violate someone or to be sexually attracted to them…thus protecting the girl in a roundabout way.

  3. Janvanize permalink
    July 25, 2010 10:58 am

    Through the various women studies classes i’ve taken, it seems that the root of the problem is the folklore that women cannot control themselves which you can learn about through the history of the words “lunatic” and “hysteria”. At one point is was beleived that a woman’s womb would move around inside of her and make her uncontrollable which they branded hysterical (hystera being the greek word for womb). It sounds like PMS to me and to add, they also though that the womb would do this cause it was dry and needed to be moistened, but if it moisten too much that wasn’t good either. This pushed the religious beleifs that you need to have sex to procreate and not to pleasure. All of this “women can’t control themselves” nonsence comes from religion where the bible says that women and children are chattel. The scary thing is that today our Canadian Constitution still recongnises this non-sence called Catholisism.

  4. July 25, 2010 3:52 pm

    “The womb was dry and needed to be moistened”…that’s so weird and interesting. I find the stereotype of a hysterical woman so frustrating. I read somewhere, but don’t remember where that women were once treated for hysteria with a powerful water hose aimed at the genitals.

    …All of this just points to the fact that men have been afraid of women and our “power”…Just look at the reasoning behind witch hunting.

    P.S. Thanks for the comment. It was very informative and interesting.

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