Thursday, May 27, 2010

From prehistoric mists...


Dragonflies from prehistoric mists,
flying around long before the ice ages, above shallow water
in the shade of gigantic trees – their clear blue wings fluttering,
growing deeper, slower, rays still shining on them -
such fragile wings, a thousand years old,
vibrating, like rainbow drops,
in the primeval wind – there were no birds is yet,
just the shade of branches, ferns rustling, just, dug in above
the lush coal swamp, flight till then, intoxicating,
lasting but a moment. 

 ~Judita Vaiciunaite~
(Poem translated from the Lithuanian by Viktoria Skupskelis and Stuart Friebert Literary Review, Fall, 1993)

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Ruby Tuesday - again!

Ah, red peppers.  And Ruby Tuesday.  It's what's for dinner!

We had Sea Scallops, done on the stove top grill.  With some grilled onions, red peppers, orange peppers, crimini mushrooms - and garlic toast.  YUM.  It was delicious.  Simple.  And good.

Really good!

Happy Ruby Tuesday, everyone!!

Don't worry, spiders...

Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house

~Kobayashi Issa~

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cleanliness is.... to Dogliness!!

Kylie at the groomer and happy to be just about finished!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Winning - Losing

Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
These opposites have more in common than we might expect.  Learning how to win or lose with grace is another way to define how to live and grow with maturity.  Richard Bach  summed it up when he said:  “That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.”
In the midst of another state tennis tournament I am witnessing hundreds of boys who have worked throughout the year to get to compete.   Already I have seen some boys head hung low, dejected after hours of playing their heart out and coming up short.  My own son has suffered the same fate several times.  In some cases it took weeks for him to come to terms with who he was as a player and a person.   This is the gift of losing, the self examination and forgiveness that must process through you for you to be a player at any game, and life itself.
My recent win which has revolutionized the way that everyone including myself thinks about my work at Good Clean Love has been surprisingly stressful.  Not just the details of working out what winning means, but rethinking my work in terms of being a winner surprisingly takes the same introspection and self acceptance as losing.  Winning adds the pressure of everyone else’s expectations, and even my own internal drive to succeed is turned up by several notches.   Learning to win is about seeing yourself as capable, competent and available for success.   This is the place that stops most people from winning.
The truest thing about winning and losing is how fluid the space is between them.  Rare is the case for the continuous winner or loser,  most lives move with the same ebb and flow between the more or less desirable outcomes in life.   Buddhist training in equanimity recognizes and accepts the changing nature of circumstances and works to develop the ability to see with patience.  Cultivating a wider view of life gives breadth to understanding our own circumstances and living with the wins and losses as equally useful teachers.
Learning how to win and lose with balance is the point of the game of life.   As we grow  our integrity and inner strength,  it gets easier to give up the labels of good and bad  and even win and lose.  The true victory of being able to stand and hold ourselves in the midst of all the winds of change, with decreasing judgment and increasing peace is all the achievement of a life time.    It awards you the courage to keep at it, and an ever widening heart to appreciate the game for what it is.
Wendy Strgar, owner of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. Wendy helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. Wendy lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their four children ages 11-20.
Original post can be found here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

To the Gulf with Love

The Gulf tragedy has me so upset - tearful at times, furious at others - and it is always painful.  

I'm embedding this video about Havasu Canyon in Arizona.  It is a beautiful place and the water is clear and clean.  I offer it as a prayer for the Water and Her creatures in the Gulf and the shores that She touches.  May the purity of these waters help in cleansing those of the Gulf - may my tears help cleanse the water of the Gulf - and may my fury burn whatever is toxic in the Gulf to help cleanse the water.  

May it be so!  Ashe!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On her own terms

No Hothouse Rose

No hothouse rose
Is She
No even color
or clipped thorns
No controlled bloom
can She be

She is a wild rose
found growing in the bramble
Rich in color -
Fragrant and Free
A rare find
On her own terms

~Raymond A. Foss~

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Ruby Tuesday - again!

I'm a bit early for Ruby Tuesday, but tomorrow is grooming day for Kylie and I'll be leaving the house earlier than I usually post.

So - Happy Ruby Tuesday!!

This is part of a mandala I made when taking an online course with Patricia Ariel about Astrology and the Mandala.  I enjoyed it so much.  And learned more about myself - this image was made for my Ascendent, or Rising Sign, Leo.

What is born with me

I saw this poem over at Medusa's place yesterday and was just stunned by it.  I had not read it before.


—Pablo Neruda

I sing to the grass that is born with me
in this free moment, to the fermentations
of cheese, of vinegar, to the secret
spurt of the first semen, I sing
to the song of milk which now comes
in rising whiteness to the nipples,
I sing to the fertility of the stable,
to the fresh dung of great cows
from whose aroma fly multitudes
of blue wings, I speak
without any shift of what is happening now
to the bumblebee with its honey, to the lichen
in its soundless germination.
Like an everlasting drum
sounds the flow of succession, the course
from being to being, and I'm born, I'm born, I'm born
with all that is being born, I'm one
with growing, with the spread silence
of everything that surrounds me, teeming,
propagating itself in the dense damp,
in thread, in tigers, in jelly.

I belong to fruitfulness
and I'll grow while lives grow.
I'm young with the youthfulness of water,
I'm slow with the slowness of time,
I'm pure with the purity of air,
dark with the wine of night,
and I'll only be still when I've become
so mineral that I neither see nor hear,
nor take part in what is born and grows.

When I picked out the jungle
to learn how to be,
leaf by leaf,
I went on with my lessons
and learned to be root, deep clay,
voiceless earth, transparent night,
and beyond that, bit by bit, the whole jungle.

(translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bronte Sisters Tribute

Revisioning the history of these wonderful sisters!  Happy laugh filled Sunday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tao Te Ching - another translation

I cannot believe I lost that entire post!  I went in to make a slight correction to give Photobucket the credit for the image and, poof!  Everything disappeared!  Arghhhh!

Let's see if I can remember what I wrote - something about having a few translations of the Tao Te Ching and loving all of them; then remarking on Ron Hogan's translation, which you can find here.

Then I think I posted a few of the stanzas that I liked...and that's it for what I remember.

If you can talk about it,
it ain't Tao.
If it has a name,
it's just another thing.
Tao doesn't have a name.
Names are for ordinary things.
Stop wanting stuff. It keeps you from seeing what's real.
When you want stuff, all you see are things.
These two statements have the same meaning.
Figure them out, and you've got it made.

Want to take over the world?
Think again.
The world's a holy place.
You can't just fuck around with it.
Those who try to change it destroy it.
Those who try to possess it lose it.
With Tao, you push forward
or maybe you stay behind.
Sometimes you push yourself,
other times you rest.
Sometimes you're strong,
sometimes you're weak.
Sometimes you're up, and sometimes you're down.
A Master lives simply,
avoiding extravagance and excess.

Chapter 42 starts out
with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo
about Tao making one,
one making two,
two making three,
and three making everything else.
I don't know what it means,
and, frankly,
I wouldn't worry about it too much.
Let's get to the practical part:
Men hate to be called
powerless, insignificant, or unworthy,
but that's how
Masters describe themselves.
Because when we lose, we've won.
And when we succeed, we've failed.
Other people will tell you
what I'm telling you now:
"Live by the sword, die by the sword."
That's pretty much what Chapter 42
boils down to.
(See Chapter 46 for more details.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Moon in your astrological chart

I found this interesting.  You can read the rest of her article here.

Where is the New Moon in my chart? 

Look up your Sun's sign and Ascendant's sign to see where the New Moon is starting a brand new chapter in your life. Take time in the next few days to start a project in that area of your life or review the life changes that started in that house in May/ June of 2000.
A new cycle begins on May 14, 2010.
On February 11, 2011 you will be tested and offered an opportunity to change or adjust projects begun under this moon.
On November 10, 2011 you'll see the ripening of the projects at the Full Moon. 
On August 9, 2012 you'll harvest the results of this new moon. How cool is THAT!?
So take time on the New Moon to launch projects dear to your heart. Use the energy of the moon to grow your life in the areas described below. 
The New Moon is in your Sixth House: Virgo ~ Earth Mutable Duty Substance
Work attitudes, health, habits, employment, employees, tenants, servants, co-workers, pets, dependents, service given to others, routine matters, clothes & how you wear clothes, hygiene, interest in food & diet, sickness, conditions affecting your health, aunts uncles, unconscious mind, high school years, apprenticeships, food, small animals, solar plexus, bowels, productivity, illness, healing, nutrition, food preparation, food served, tools, analysis, coping with stress, chores, duties, your feelings about employment, work output, applied discipline to self improvement, dedication, devotion, loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance, body functions, discipline, body cleansing, celibacy, bread, magic, harvest, criteria, file cabinet, knitting, luggage, ephemeris, napkin, telephone directory, skills
The New Moon is in your Fifth House: Leo - Fire Fixed Creativity Life
Children, love affairs, romance, pleasure, amusement, holidays, vacations, games, speculations, hobbies, avocations, emotional attitude, the love you give, enterprise, sports, originality, creative outlets, dramatic, literary and artistic ability, publication, politics, fine arts, social affairs, pregnancy, education of children, groups which have to do with fun, heart, back, pleasant things in life, mastery of self, self's abilities, child rearing & molding & teaching, values imparted to children, teachers, theater, play, luck, prizes, winnings, drama, contrived emotions, laughter, celebrations, applause, humor, spontaneity, matters of the heart, popularity, toast
The New Moon is in your Fourth House: Cancer - Water Cardinal Security Endings
Home, parents (mother), family you came from, roots, home you will establish, heritage, heredity, ancestry, psychological roots, preverbal learning, private life, property, all things secluded, endings, closing years of life, fame after death, place of burial, your subjective self, foundation of your character, mines, land, property, environment, domestic affairs, the result of undertakings, breasts, stomach, digestive organs, tradition, early life, emotional attitudes in basic personality foundations, how you live, inner nature, fixed possessions, privacy, attitudes towards family, instinctive emotional motivations, emotional roots and origins, care and devotion received & strings attached to same, initial adjustment to life, ethnic traditions, family support, subjective building blocks of self, self-sufficiency, how you guard your space & property & work area, folklore, memories, sentimental, agricultural products, abundance of goods available, attachment to objects, hold you have on your possessions, fence, flags, phobias, rivers, midnight, nostalgia, scab
The New Moon is in your Third House: Gemini - Air Mutable Awareness Side by Side Relationships
Local neighborhood, brothers, sisters, communications, transportation vehicles, short trips, adaptability of mind to learning, taken for granted skills, conscious and objective parts of mind, grammar school, writings, mental inclinations and ability, shoulders, arms, hands, lungs, collar bones, nervous system, inner cleverness, limits to what you accept, learn, try, repeat, relearn, daily encounters, reading, writing, arithmetic, term papers, appropriateness of what you write and speak, wit, repartee, distribution of goods & systems, alibis, weather, variety, archetypes, air, books, barter, questions, mimicry, microphones, limericks, early education
The New Moon is in your Second House: Taurus - Earth Fixed Values Substance
Financial affairs, moveable possessions, investments, earning power, inner talents, skills, resources, self worth, values, emotional feelings, freedom, outer resources, throat and ears, benefit from material things, value of money earned, personal role of finances, personal and psychological worth, comforts, compensation, personal value placed on services rendered or given to others, material things balanced with inner happiness and spiritual needs, ownership, borrowing & lending of personal possessions, care you give to things you own, relaxation & comfort in material world, music, gifts you give, jewelry, flowers, wallet, serenity, thoughtfulness
The New Moon is in your First House: Aries - Fire Cardinal Identity Life Angular
Personality, disposition, individuality, how you express yourself, how you are seen, how you begin things, physical body, overall health, approach to life, appearance, bearing, beginnings of all enterprises, outlook, tendencies, self interest, worldly outlook, head and face, character, forming & presenting & maintaining identity, attitudes toward yourself, needs for recognition, enjoyment from personal risks, mannerisms, how to work with self, development & nurturing or abandonment of habits, nuances, styles, appearance, your name, forefront of anything, axe, arson, martial arts, loud things, male things, iron, guns, freshmen, point of view, missile, vigor
The New Moon is in your Twelfth House: Pisces - Water Mutable Subconscious Endings
Unknown or hidden strengths, weaknesses, sorrow, suffering, limitations, handicaps, secrets, seclusion, frustration, behind the scenes action, places of confinement, jails, hospitals, mental institutions, restraint, inhibitions, exile, secret enemies, hidden dangers, self- undoing, clandestine affairs, things we hide from others, research, background, subjective sustainment, inner consciousness, subconscious mind, spiritual debts to be paid, karma, charity, sympathy, public welfare, closet or dustbin of horoscope ~ all the problems which are painful to face or difficulties we refuse to acknowledge, unseen & unexpected troubles, large animals, occult or hidden side of life, feet, charity, selfless deeds, drugs, alcohol, diffusion, rehabilitation, poverty, chains, conspiracies, ambush, analgesic, boots, litter, emancipation, desertion, clouds, chemicals, ESP, fog, kidnapping, eavesdropping, crying, miracles, masks
The New Moon is in your Eleventh House: Aquarius - Air Fixed Social Consciousness Group Relationships
Capacity for friendship, attitude towards friends, acquaintances, non emotional relationships, desire, goals, love received, money from profession, step-children, children of other people, foster children, adopted children, circumstances over which you have little control, humanitarian interests, way you see others, large & small organizations, clubs, associations related to career or work, ankles, informal relationships, cliques, gangs, syndicates, clusters, societies, brotherhood, shared convictions & beliefs, politics, civic matters, airport, balloting, political awareness, consensus, caucus, effecting change, oddities, eccentricity, bohemianism, networking, large machinery, office automation, assembly lines, labor saving devices, revolutions, electricity, astrology, chorus, surprise, perversity, junk food,
The New Moon is in your Tenth House: Capricorn - Earth Cardinal Honor Substance
Profession, reputation, standing in the community, ego, status, fame, promotion, ambition, business and social activities, employer, government, any authority over you, achievements, how the world sees and evaluates you, influence you have in own circle, parent (father), honor, knees, skin, cartilage, high standards, fulfillment, completions, recognition, setting & meeting goals, returns in kind for what earned, stature, esteem, maturity, father figures, mentors, bosses, consequences of actions, roadblocks, work done is rewarded, equal return for equal effort, bones, aim, time, Oscars, clock, landmarks, glory, vocation, quota, peak, skyscrapers, warts
The New Moon is in your Ninth House: Sagittarius - Fire Mutable Aspiration Life
Higher mind, super-conscious, religion, law, science, ideals, higher learning, college education, philosophy, psychology, profound mental study, dreams, visions, distant travel, foreigners, foreign dealings, commerce, big business, imports, exports, organized religions, clergy, in-laws, grandchildren, intuition, ethics, public opinion, lessons learned through living, places remote from birth, psychic experiences, education, higher development, scientific, philanthropic, spiritual tendencies, liver, thighs, experiment with life, go beyond your boundaries, different ways of thinking, legends, myths, moral courage, justice, the courts, jury, ceremonies of ritual, publishing, creeds, folklore, expedition, vistas, passports, hymn, gospel, wanderlust, wisdom, marketing, sports team, editor, gypsy
The New Moon is in your Eighth House: Scorpio - Water Fixed Regeneration Endings
Sex, death, taxes, Support from other people ~ financial, moral, spiritual, & physical. Legacies, trusts, wills, insurance matters, secrets, spiritual & physical regeneration, psychological rebirth, degeneration, occult matters, sleep, deep research, investigation, hidden assets, assets & financial affairs of partners, alimony, surgery, astral experiences, muscular system, bladder, sex organs, deep motivations, mutually sharing, obligations, emotional gifts, reciprocation, interchange, retaliation, compensation, swapping, giving, deep questions, is the exchange equal or not?, garbage, removal, eradication, uprooting, amputation, transformation, mystery, process of death, afterlife, reincarnation, soul travel, distillation, investigation, probing, analysis, depth, innards, core, conception, poison, peat
The New Moon is in your Seventh House: Libra - Air Cardinal Cooperation Face to Face Relationships
Business and marital partners, marriage, divorce, contracts, lawsuits, bargains, agreements, dealings with the public, public's response to you, open enemies, cooperation with others, lack of cooperation, what you most lack in your self, attitudes towards marriage, your mate, kind and quality of your marriages, how many marriages, grandparents, people who act as your agent or on your behalf, public relations, unions, kidneys, ovaries, lower half of back, participation, interaction, oppositions, sharing, competition, compromise, fairness, others return what they feel you deserve, reconciliation, equality, alternatives, obstruction, blockages, withdrawal, behavior, manners, etiquette, social skills, how others help you or fight you, peace, harmony, tolerating differences, virtues, bitchiness, law suit

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

"As if you were on fire from within. 
The moon lives in the lining of your skin." 

It's Ruby Tuesday over at Work of the Poet.  Go see who's participating!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feliz El Dia de las Madres!

Today is Mother's Day in Mexico - it is always on 10 May.  This article came from the Mex Connect website, which is filled with all sorts of information about Mexico.


What a special and grand celebration Mothers Day in this beautiful country called Mexico! The beach, restaurants and streets are overflowing with families celebrating Mothers Day. The local stores area packed with colourful flowers, especially roses. I wonder where they get the roses and how expensive they must be for those families on a limited income to purchase. The retail stores place big beautiful bows on all their merchandise and the bakeries display some very grand and beautiful "Happy Mother's Day" cakes which look absolutely delicious.
In the small and seemingly magical beach town of Los Ayala, everyone dresses up in their finest attire. Families attend mass at the local church to worship at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe; for on this day she symbolizes motherhood. The local schools host shows especially for Mom; and the children present Mother with handmade gifts and cards made especially for her at school. After mass, a meal is enjoyed; the whole family visits and spends the entire day celebrating with Mom.
However, what is most special to me about Mothers Day here in Mexico is the tradition of children gathering outside their Mother's homes in the early morning hours to serenade their Moms. The ability to sing astonishingly well; seems to be a genetic trait in many Mexican people.
Some of the more affluent families actually hire mariachi musicians to serenade their Moms, as we learned during our first year in Mexico on Día de las Madres, or Mothers Day, when we were awakened in the wee hours of the morning, to the sweet melody of "Las Mañanitas."
Las Mañanitas is the birthday song of Mexico which is traditionally sung on the evening of December 11th as a serenade to the Virgin of Guadalupe and Mother's day. It is a beautiful song. The chorus goes…
Awaken, my dear, awaken
and see that the day has dawned
now the little birds are singing
and the moon has set
The Virgin of Guadalupe, the story of the Virgin Mary as related in Mexico, represents the mother of all Mexicans. Motherhood in Mexico is associated with kindness, tenderness, sincerity and virtuosity. For us, everything in Mexico seems to have more meaning. Life here is rich. If you research the word "madre," the Spanish word for "mother" you will find that mothers are referred to as a cross between angels and saints who are still virginal and always self sacrificing. Madres are pure and perfect -- like the Virgin of Guadalupe, worshipped and untouchable. It should be said that everything that is good and bad in Mexico is laid upon the Virgin of Guadalupe and that because of her association with motherhood; the word madre is frequently used in the most serious of insults. Because of this relationship the word should be used with caution by those just learning the Spanish language.
If you look up the meaning of "mother" in English the meaning is most often clinical. "Mother" is defined as a woman who has given birth, conceived or raised a child; a female person who is pregnant with or gives birth to a child; or a female person, whose egg unites with a sperm, resulting in the conception. Of course, Motherhood is also associated with love, caring and protecting but the word "mother" in English does not carry the same religious connotations and adulation, and interpretation as it does in Spanish. We do not seem to worship mothers as they are in Mexico. Mothers here seemingly devote their entire lives to their children, creating bonds that last a life time. Mothers are glorified in Mexico.
In Mexico, the love of the family is first and foremost in life. Families who take vacation in Los Ayala -- when asked what they most enjoy Los Ayala -- without fail always say the importance of family and children.
Family is very important in Mexico and this is but one thing we love about this country. Another is the very special and personal celebration of Mother's Day -- not a Hallmark card in sight in any store and not needed!
Published or Updated on: May 9, 2010 by Christina Stobbs © 2010 
Contact Christina Stobbs
Cristina Stobbs and her hiusband Robert operate the Tropical Manor House, an upscale B&B in Los Ayala on Mexico's beautiful Nayarit Riviera

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

~Julia Ward Howe, 18700~

Dememter and Persephone by Susan Seddon Boulet
Image from Photobucket

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Saturday!

This made me laugh and wish that I had been there to watch the faces!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

I am just stunned...

I'm sorry - I just heard about this and am simply stunned that doctors in this country are even thinking about "nicking" female children.  Read it and weep.  And  take action through the Equality Now website, if you are so inclined.

Dakinikat also weighs in on this atrocious procedure.


Letter from Equality Now to the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding its policy on FGM

Errol R. Alden, M.D. FAAP
Executive Director/CEO, American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Blvd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1019
Via fax: (847) 434-8385

Judith S. Palfrey, M.D. FAAP
President, American Academy of Pediatrics
300 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA 02115-5724
Via fax: (617) 730-0049
28 April 2010

Dear Dr. Alden and Dr. Palfrey,

I am writing on behalf of Equality Now, an international human rights organization that works for the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls worldwide. Issues of concern to Equality Now include all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls, including female genital mutilation (FGM). This letter expresses our deep concern regarding the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Policy Statement – Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors,” (“the AAP Policy Statement”) released on April 26, 2010 suggesting changes in US federal and state laws to “enable[] pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick” such as “pricking or incising the clitoral skin to satisfy cultural requirements.”

Equality Now has partnered for close to two decades with grassroots groups across Africa to end all forms of FGM and initiated in 2000 the Fund for Grassroots Activism to End FGM, counting 36 organizations in 19 African countries since the inception of the Fund. These and other groups working in their communities to end FGM all convey the clear message that FGM in all its forms, including “nicking” or “pricking”, is a human rights violation that must be eradicated through awareness raising, education, community involvement, and the enactment and enforcement of laws prohibiting this 5,000 year old harmful traditional practice. This vibrant grassroots movement that has been combating FGM also coordinates efforts with social service agencies and law enforcement in European and other Western countries to ensure that girls whose parents are from FGM-practicing communities are protected from harm in their new homelands and in cases where girls are at risk of FGM upon return to their parents’ countries. The AAP Policy Statement works against these goals.

International and African human rights instruments recognize that FGM is a harmful cultural practice that is steeped in inequality and is a form of gender-based violence and discrimination. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which is a groundbreaking women’s rights legal instrument, requires African States to prohibit all forms of FGM, including specifically the medicalization of FGM. In the United States, on 26 April 2010 Congress introduced new legislation amending the 1996 federal law prohibiting FGM to make it illegal to transport girls out of the country for purposes of FGM, also known as the “vacation provision.” Such laws exist in most European countries and, as pointed out in the AAP Policy Statement, have been found to be effective in getting communities to abandon this practice.

In light of all the work done by human rights groups and United Nations and other agencies to eradicate all forms of FGM, as well as efforts in the United States to protect girls from this practice, the AAP Policy Statement stands out as lacking clarity on the issue and fails to recognize the established basic principles of girls’ rights as affirmed and reaffirmed by international human rights standards.

Harmful traditional practices, such as FGM, not only have no medical purpose, they contribute to the classification of girls as second-class citizens. Some other harmful traditional practices include early marriage, which occurs in many countries in which FGM is practiced, and, historically, foot binding in China. In comparison, the AAP’s recommendations to “nick” a girl’s clitoris would be the equivalent of suggesting marriage at 12 years old, instead of 8, or binding the girl’s toes, instead of her entire foot. A reduction in the severity of a human rights violation does not supplant the gravity of such a violation. In addition, contrary to the assertion in the AAP Policy Statement that the World Health Organization (WHO) is “silent on the pros and cons of pricking or minor incisions,” the WHO recognizes that pricking and piercing of girls’ genitalia are forms of FGM (Type IV) with no health benefits and only harmful consequences. The WHO, in fact, “strongly urges health professionals not to perform such procedures.”1Furthermore, a United Nations interagency statement on “Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation” issued by 10 UN agencies in 2008 states “the guiding principles for considering genital practices as female genital mutilation should be those of human rights, including the rights to health, the rights of children and the right to non-discrimination on the basis of sex.” The AAP Policy Statement falls short of these standards.

Protecting girls in the United States from FGM requires community-based outreach, health and human rights education, affirmative engagement of social services, as well as supporting and implementing the FGM law. Equality Now therefore urges the AAP to retract the portions of its “Policy Statement–Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors” that call for an amendment of laws in order to enable physicians to “nick” girls’ genitalia. Doctors must instead be encouraged to identify and protect girls at risk of FGM by advising and referring their patients’ parents to not-for-profit or government agencies that can help parents understand the consequences of FGM.

We urge the AAP to abide by the principles of gender equality in their practice and to recognize that human rights always trump harmful practices performed under the guise of a particular culture, tradition or religion. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you further and look forward to hearing from you.


Taina Bien-Aimé
Executive Director

CC: Kevin B. Weiss, M.D., MPH, President and CEO
American Board of Medical Specialties

Alan R. Cohen, M.D., Chair
James A. Stockman III, M.D., President and CEO
The American Board of Pediatrics

Larry C. Gilstrap, III, M.D., Executive Director
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Gerald F. Joseph Jr., M.D., President
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Lamar S. McGinnis, M.D., President
American College of Surgeons

William D. Steers, M.D., President
American Board of Urology

Anton J. Bueschen, M.D., President
American Urological Association