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Date for your diary – Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery Protest

November 11th, 2008

Dr Petra

On 17th November 2008 the New View Campaign (which exists to challenge the medicalisation of women’s sex lives) is organising a demonstration against Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery (FGCS).

This protest will be highlighting the current trend of cosmetic surgery such as labiaplasty, vagina ‘reconstruction’, and g-shots (collagen injections into the vagina). These practices are presented as ways to enhance the appearance of genitals while promising to ‘boost’ or ‘improve’ women’s sex lives and increase their partner’s pleasure.

Concerns have been growing over how the media (particularly the fashion pages and women’s magazines) have uncritically promoted cosmetic genital surgery – often using celebrity endorsement and plastic surgeons as resident beauty experts. Reality television programmes that combine a game-show and self-improvement format have been promoting genital surgery for women. In the majority of cases there is little discussion about the long-term impact of surgery, risks of side effects, possible adverse events, and the likelihood of requiring future surgery. Costs are often downplayed in favour of benefits, and problems mentioned barely at all.

Clearly there are women who require reconstructive surgery following injury or disease, and genital surgery is also carried out on those who select to have gender reassignment. However, these are rarely discussed in the media.

This protest is not about those issues, but instead is focusing on the more sinister and steady increase in features about cosmetic surgery that are barely more than advertorials, and widespread promotion of cosmetic genital surgery. More worryingly is in the US (and UK private practice) practitioners are considering ways to increase the amount of genital surgery on offer as a means of increasing the range of ‘treatments’ on offer to clients.

So if you are an educator, healthcare practitioner or anyone who is considering cosmetic genital surgery you may want to read the materials provided in advance of the protest. Details about how to participate in the event are available on the website. If you are a journalist you may want to pitch this story in now. It’s a real issue facing many women in the West, and one where a critical voice is desperately needed.

I’ll report more on the protest at a later date. You can get more information from the event organisers via the New View Campaign.

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