Betty Dodson Answering Critics of Clitoraid

April 16 2010, category: International NEWS

Betty A. Dodson

In 1990, I was invited to speak at a conference titled: “Say Yes to Masturbation”. It was in Montreal Canada sponsored by the Raelians, a world-wide organization who follows their prophet Rael. He claims to have been contacted by extra terrestrials, or ET’s. Sort of like Moses receiving a message from God through a burning bush, or Buddha receiving enlightenment while sitting under a tree. Who’s to say these things are impossible, although I tend to lean in that direction.

At the time, my webmaster Grant, always the suspicious academic, said I’d be crazy to deal with “kooks” who believed in flying saucers. Friends worried I’d be kidnapped by this cult and flown off in a saucer never to be heard from again. (I had a few sexual fantasies with that one). Others thought it would discredit my already difficult message about the beneficial aspects of masturbation. In twenty years of dealing with the explosive topic of self-induced orgasms, no one had ever invited me to a conference that endorsed masturbation, so naturally I accepted.

I explained that although I was not a true believer in ET’s, part of me hoped it might be true. As yet, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or any other creation myths had never acknowledged the humble activity of masturbation— except one. In ancient Egypt, the popular religion was based on masturbation and was commemorated in a daily ritual that took place in the Karnak temples built over 4000 years ago: at dawn every morning, priests and priestesses re-enacted masturbation at the shrine of Amun Ra. They believed Amun created the world with his self-induced orgasm. Christianity’s creation myth had God creating the world in seven days.

When I first met Rael over lunch, I liked him immediately. I was charmed by his relaxed manner with all things sexual. His followers were also comfortable with the subject of sexual pleasures. At one point I teased Rael about setting up a meeting so I too could meet a few ET’s and visit a flying saucer. He explained he had no way to contact them directly and I chided him: “Oh, so you’re not like the Catholics who can go through a priest to reach God”? Rael claimed the Elohim, the plural form of the Hebrew word for God, are ET’s who created us. They want him to build an embassy so they can safely land and communicate with us. So far there is way too much violence on planet Earth. We can all agree on the importance of reducing violence. Obviously more sexual expression would help people honor all living things starting with the human body— the opposite of body loathing and waging wars with killing machines like America is doing.

The conference was in French. They had an instant translation of what I was saying to a large audience wearing head phones, just like the UN. The Raelians are hated and feared by many and have received death threats, so we each had a body guard. Mine was a big handsome kid I wanted to bring home with me. They are also loved by many others the world over.

Several years ago, I was contacted by Sylvie, a lovely French Canadian Raelian who was working on Clitoraid. When I discovered their mission was to help African women who had their clitorises removed, I wanted to know more. When she claimed these women could experience orgasm again through a surgical procedure followed by learning to masturbate, I said “Yes” to Clitoraid. Later I began to wonder if the operation really did work or was it simply cosmetic by eliminating excessive scar tissue. A French surgeon, in Africa who was performing the surgeries was difficult to reach. Before I was able to contact him, my masturbation information was already on Clitoraid’s website. Whether this was a scam or real, I believe in copyleft. That means anyone can use my information as long as it’s attributed to me.

When the French surgeon taught his surgical technique to Dr. Marcie Bowers, a Colorado surgeon working with the transgendered community, it was easy to contact her. After we spoke on the phone, I was convinced this was the real thing. Dr. Bowers said the operations success depended on a woman’s age, amount of scaring, how much of the clitoral stem remained, and the success of her post-op recovery. The physical therapy depended upon a woman’s motivation to massage her vulva and practice masturbation. During all the years I’ve taught women about orgasm, the part about practicing masturbation is essential. Western women the world over have been sexually damaged through negative messages from organized religions that instill genital shame. Many are unable to accept their vulvas as normal or beautiful. Added to this is a lack of sex education and information which leads to unwanted pregnancies, sexual abuse, and lack of orgasms. These women have been genitally mutilated psychologically.

I knew that a battery operated vibrator would be a great help for African women the same as they have helped my demographic of women. My business partner Carlin and I agreed that Good Vibrations would be a good choice to donate vibrators, so I contacted Carol Queen. In no time there was a shit storm on her end. An African American academic feminist teaching at San Francisco University objected to our interference in a culture that we supposedly know nothing about. Good Vibrations pulled out. The store depends upon the good will of a community that has its share of nit picking academic sex negative feminists. Since dodsonandross is a website we have all the freedom in the world to do and say what we choose. It’s called freedom of speech!

Something to be concerned about is a Pope who pays large sums of money to cover up his own priest’s sexual abuse of young boys. So far Clitoraid has demonstrated that some women can be restored through surgery. Meanwhile, I continue to share my information in person or on our website to all women who have been damaged through organized religions. The first prize for religious cults goes to Muslims with Catholics next. Third prize goes to Fundamentalists with other Protestant cults falling in behind. Honestly, I’d prefer ET’s to these other religious cults. At least ET’s would be more advanced in their thinking.

Trinidad Surgeon Helps Women Escape Past of Mutilation

March 23 2010, category: International NEWS

Bowers hugs Meite on Monday before Meite's reconstructive surgery. Bowers donates her skills and has an agreement with Trinidad's Mount San Rafael Hospital to use its facilities for $1,500 per patient.

Dr. Marci Bowers slipped into a chair in Exam Room 3, folded one long leg over another, looked at her patient — a young woman with wide eyes and a nervous smile — and got to the point.

"We want to help make your life better," Bowers said.

Mariama is as tiny as the 5-foot-10-inch Bowers is formidable, as soft-spoken as Bowers is confident. Mariama speaks softly and smiles easily, but a few hours with her make clear that her determination is as strong as it is quiet.

She is 26 and lives with her husband and daughter in Virginia, and didn't want her last name used. Originally, she is from Guinea, a country about the size of Oregon on Africa's western coast. Guinea has about 10 million residents, and about
96 percent of the women there have, like Mariama, been genitally mutilated.

Mariama and the six other women, all originally from Africa, crowding Dr. Bowers' tiny Trinidad clinic have traveled a long way to get that fixed. The women have come to this former coal-mining town in southern Colorado looking for more than just reconstructive surgery. They want relief from pain. They are looking for a chance, as one put it, to be normal.

Kady Meite from the Ivory Coast in Trinidad, Colorado. (Korene Gallegos)

"I want to be like everyone else," said Kady Meite, the only one of the women who agreed to have her full name used. "Now, I feel nothing. I feel pain" during sex, she said.

The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million to 140 million women worldwide, but especially in northern and central Africa, have endured female genital mutilation, or FGM.

Usually done to girls before age 15, the practice involves at least slicing off part or all of the exposed clitoris. In some cultures, the cutting is more extensive, and disfiguring. It's done occasionally by health care practitioners but most often by an older female relative.

A lot of people inflict the damage. Bowers, whose clinic is known around the world as a destination for those seeking gender-changing surgery, is one of a few trained to surgically restore the clitoris, as well as repair other damage.

Since 2003 when she took over the work of Trinidad's pioneering sex-change surgeon, Dr. Stanley Biber, Bowers' practice has exploded to more than 200 of the surgeries a year, and there is a waiting list of patients. Bowers certainly didn't need more to do.

Nevertheless, she went to France a little over a year ago to learn a reconstructive technique developed by Dr. Pierre Foldes, which essentially cuts away scar tissue and surrounding skin to expose whatever is left of the clitoris.

In many cases the procedure also requires more extensive reconstruction.

The women gathered in her office last week are the second group Bowers has performed the reparative surgery for; both times she has donated her services.

Kady Meite, 43, originally from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, speaks with Dr. Marci Bowers before going through a female genital mutilation reversal surgery in Trinidad.

Because the procedure is new and rare, insurance seldom covers it. But Trinidad's Mount San Rafael Hospital has agreed to a flat rate of $1,500 per patient for use of one of its two operating rooms.

Like most of the women in Bowers' clinic, Meite had no idea repair was possible until she learned about Bowers on the Internet. "I said, 'Oh, my God. I don't believe it.' "

Meite is 43. She has been married 22 years and has four children. She would like, after all this time, for sex with her husband, Mustapha, not to hurt.

Betrayal of trust

As Bowers made her way from exam room to exam room Monday, a theme began to emerge as each patient recounted her story: A young girl would visit some trusted female relative in a different town or a distant village. One day during that visit, she would be taken somewhere. Someone would hold her down, and a knife would appear.

"We went on a vacation to visit my aunt," Mariama said, describing her experience. "Then one day, she took me and her granddaughter — my cousin — to a different village. It was like there was going to be a party or a big ceremony. They were cooking food."

Mariama remembers being taken outside into the bush, where "a lady had a small knife." They forced her to the dirt. "I think they didn't want to get blood on a blanket."

She remembers being sliced three times. "The knife was not sharp enough. It hurt so much, I thought I was dying. I screamed so loud one lady physically was sitting on my face" to muffle the screams.

It took two months for the pain and bleeding to stop. In the meantime, the wound became infected, and Mariama got sick with a fever.

She was 8 years old.

When Mariama asked her mother why this happened, her mother explained that it was their culture.

The custom is most closely associated with Islam. Newsweek has reported that Dr. Foldes has received death threats as a result of his surgeries. Still, the women who have come to Trinidad don't believe they are doing anything contrary to the Muslim faith.

"There is nothing written in the Koran saying you need to do that," Meite said.

Growing up in Guinea and the Ivory Coast, Mariama and Meite watched girls who were not cut be ostracized, whispered about, called "unclean."

It wasn't until she came to the United States, as the bride of a Guinea-born chemist, that she learned that in many places what happened to her was not acceptable, or even legal.

The first time she was examined by a doctor in the U.S. — who had never heard of FGM — "his face was like he had seen a ghost," Mariama said.

When she gave birth to their daughter, it had to be by cesarean section; nurses couldn't even insert a catheter, she said.

Her daughter, now 5, has never been to Guinea, and she never will, Mariama said.

"I refuse to go back. I won't let them near my daughter."

A path toward healing

After they met with Bowers and filled out paperwork at the hospital, the women went to their rooms at the Morning After Guest House.

Typically, the Morning After is a haven for those who have come to Trinidad for sex-change surgery. But this week, it had been reserved for the women.

The night before the surgeries, that guest house was a bustling, noisy place. The television on, the radio was blaring, exotic smells wafted from the kitchen as owner Carol Cometto threw a dinner for them.

The women come as a group for pragmatic reasons — Bowers blocks out time for surgery, the guest house is reserved.

But there is another less tangible benefit to the mass scheduling. As the evening proceeded, the women got acquainted, and for many, it was the first time they met others who faced the same traumas and made the same decision to seek healing.

Eventually, a woman in a plaid schoolgirl miniskirt, fishnet stockings, boots and a fur-trimmed white jacket walked in, carrying a large box of vibrators.

"Tonight I get to play Santa Claus," Nadine Gary said.

Gary is with the organization Clitoraid, which she describes as working toward twin goals of "ending FGM worldwide and to help as many victims as possible through surgery."

To fully help them, Gary believes, means more than just ending the women's pain. It also means beginning their pleasure.

Female genitalia is "just like any part of body that has been cut," Gary said. "You need physical therapy so it starts to work again. The nerve paths need to be reactivated so they reach the brain."

If that notion was a bit much for a group of women whose childhood lessons taught that sex may be enjoyable for men but a source of pain for women, they didn't say anything.

Early Tuesday morning, while darkness still clung to Trinidad, a car pulled up outside the guest house, for the first of four trips that day to the hillside hospital.

The surgeries took little more than an hour each, and by 3 p.m. four women were back at the guest house, sore and resting.

Wednesday, the process was repeated with the remaining three.

Bowers had prepared them for some post-op pain, but that didn't deter them.

Meite, who said she has converted to Christianity, believes "God has a purpose for everything." Now, she said, she has found the answer to why this happened to her.

"Now, I have found someone who can help me, and so I can help a lot of other women."

Karen Auge: 303-954-1733 or -email-

Uganda bans female circumcision

December 15 2009, category: International NEWS
(CNN) -- The Ugandan parliament unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a traditional rite that has sparked an international outcry and is practiced in some African and Asian communities.

The practice, which involves cutting off a girl's clitoris, is also called female circumcision. In some communities in eastern Uganda, it is practiced in girls up to age 15.

Convicted offenders face 10 years in prison, but if the girl dies during the act, those involved will get a life sentence, according to officials in the east African country.

"A majority of Ugandans felt it is a disgusting act, but you have to remember that this is a cultural belief that has been practiced for generations," said Fred Opolot, the government spokesman. "That's what took the bill so long to pass."

Human rights activists have decried the practice, which they say poses major health risks for girls and may lead to death. It also causes complications during sex and child birth, activists say.

"The experience has also been related to a range of psychological and psychosomatic disorders," the United Nations Population Fund says.

About three million women and girls face female genital mutilation globally every year, and nearly 140 million have already undergone the practice, according to the United Nations.

Most of the victims live in Africa and Asia, including among some populations in India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Alice Alaso, a member of parliament in Uganda, said the bill was only a first step.

"We might later amend it to include compensations for women subjected to the practice," Alaso said. "Our goal is to protect these girls, and we will continue to do so."

Female genital mutilation has been banned in some African countries, but it is still practiced in some remote, close-knit communities.

Some communities are also shifting toward a less invasive procedure called the 'lesser cut," according to the United Nations.

"This may be indicative of shifts in awareness .... however, it is still an unacceptable practice," it added.

Source: CNN

Africa Rising, New Documentary Movie on FGM

November 05 2009, category: International NEWS
“This is a powerful look at how to eliminate, from within cultures themselves, a tragic practice. This procedure is perpetrated on young girls, the most vulnerable members of society.”
Meryl Streep

“An inspiring and hopeful film. Despite the deep sadness I felt for these girls, the good news is that the grassroots movement is strong and leading the global fight against Female Genital Mutilation to save each and every girl.”
Edwidge Danticat

Africa Rising is a powerful documentary portraying the indomitable grassroots movement to end female genital mutilation. Traveling through remote villages in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Somalia and Tanzania, Africa Rising celebrates the resilience and determination of the human spirit to change destiny against all odds.

From the Horn of Africa to the Western shores of the sub-Saharan nations, everyday 6,000 girls are subjected to a practice called female genital mutilation or FGM. And everyday with little more than fierce determination and deep love for their communities, brave activists are leading the path against all odds to break the silence about this centuries-old tradition. Together, these women and men have created a formidable grassroots movement to end FGM. Africa Rising is an extraordinary film presenting an insightful look at the frontlines of a quiet revolution taking the African continent by storm.

Masterfully directed by Paula Heredia, Africa Rising paints an intimate portrait of courageous individuals with dignity and strength, whose passion for justice is changing the course of history. The film celebrates girls like Beatrice and Edna Kandie, sisters who fled their home after learning their father was planning to cut them, and succeeded in getting a court order of protection against him; the film also features the moving story of Fanta Camara from Mali, who despite years of suffering from injuries as a result of FGM, blossoms into a bright young woman. Other girls, however, have faced ultimate tragedy, such as Tato a teenaged anti-FGM activist who lost her life to FGM.

Covering rural stories from across the continent, Africa Rising will leave the viewer cheering for these unlikely heroes who share their conviction that ending female genital mutilation is within our reach and visible on the horizon.

FOR MORE SEE our links page...

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