Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Book & Movie

Photographed By Ellinor Forje

“Liya did a great job. I met her in the 1990's at a party at Iman's apartment in New York City. I was at the peak of my career and Liya was a beginner. She starred at me all the time and then introduced herself. Ten years later, she became a supermodel herself and played me in the movie," said Waris Dirie. Besides the fact that Liya Kebede is perfect for the role, I'm wondering, "Who else was at that party?”

“Desert Flower” (2009), is based on an autobiography written by Dirie. Elton John bought the rights to the book shortly after it was published in 1997. However, the author and acquirer didn't agree on the script leading Dirie to sign with German Academy Award winner Peter Hermann instead. The premise centers around Dirie, whose name literally means desert flower, and her escape from an arranged marriage which forces her to run through the barren lands of Somalia to England. After a time of trials and tribulations she eventually becomes a model in London, and resumes her life as a nomad by moving between Paris, London, Milan and New York. Glamorous as it may seem, her traumatic past remains present.

Dirie who was completely involved in the production says, “I was shocked and burst into tears when I saw it the first time. It's very hard to see your own life in a film.” The film is hard to watch, and the book even harder to read, although I recommend you do both. And I'll back up my advice. Several years ago in Boston, after a George Michael concert, I noticed a guy wearing a t-shirt with the sentence “Stop Male Genital Mutilation" written at the back. This sparked my curiosity as to whether the letters “F” and “E” were written somewhere in the front. After a swift semi stalker-ish maneuver made to appear like I was walking towards the chap from the opposite direction, I discovered that they weren't. Instead there was a sentence that read “If it's not okay for girls, then it's not okay for boys.”

After initiating a conversation, I was informed that John Doe was discontent with the reality of his parents  decision to circumcise him without his permission or approval. And if there was movement advocating for women then one should exist for men, too. Then he blamed the Africans, Jews, Arabs, WASPs, colonial rule, the post-world war immigrants, Hispanics excluded, the Abrahamic religions, Roswell 1958, the government, and the cosmetic industry for their continued scheme.

“Cosmetics, like lipstick you mean?”

“No, creams women rub on their faces to prevent them from getting wrinkles.” 

Even though he was on a mission to raise Cain, I decided to Listen Without Prejudice.

With that said, the procedures are not comparable. Female circumcision is ultimately about control, or as Dirie explains, “FGM is a crime against women. It destroys female sexuality and self-determination.”


  1. The fact that this is still going on is mind boggling.

  2. Male circumcision is nothing like FGM. Sure. LOL:

    **NSFL**: Warning! Extremely graphic video of African male genital mutilation being performed on unconsenting young boys:

    **NSFL**: Warning! Horrific photo collection from a Dutch doctor of hundreds of mutilated, amputated and seriously infected penises (many with gangrene) of African boys and men as a result of "male circumcision" - ie: sexual abuse and genital mutilation. This is just one, tiny area of Africa - where MGM is widespread. Most of these men will have their penis amputated; and many will die or commit suicide:

  3. From page 52 of Waris Dirie’s book, Desert Dawn, about her son:

    “We had Aleeke circumcised in the hospital a day after he was born. This is very different from female genital mutilation; that should never even be called circumcision – it’s not. In males it’s done for medical reasons – to ensure cleanliness. I could hear Aleeke crying when they did it but he stopped as soon as I held him. Despite my strong feelings about FGM, I knew it was the right thing to do. My son has a beautiful penis. It looks so good and so clean. The other day he told me he had to go to the bathroom. I said, ‘You can do that alone, you are a big boy now,’ but he wanted me to come and see him. His little penis was sticking up straight and clean. It was lovely to look at!”

    1. Why is there no birth control pill for men (one was developed but men refused to take them), but we have Viagra? Maybe some of the procedures performed on men are botchered, just like doctors have been known to amputate the wrong foot of a person. Your argument is not valid however. If male circumcision was to the general detriment of men, the practice would have ended a long time ago. FGM is performed to render women numb of sexual desire. That is the only reason why it exists.

    2. Let's get that straightApril 28, 2015 at 6:49 PM

      Be specific when you write about Africa, it's not a country but a continent. And male circumcision is widely carried out in many countries in Africa, just like many men in the Unites States are circumcised every year. In many countries of Europe where male circumcision is not the common practice, parents can request the doctors at the hospital to perform the procedure on their newborn boys. So please, it's not n African problem nor should it be equated to FGM which is banned in any civilised society.

      Besides, if male circumcision was to the general detriment of the male species or threathened their manhood vis a vis women in any way, men from all socities, race and religions would have held a convention in a cave somewhere to make sure the practice came to a quickhalt. And it would have been enforced in the most brutal manner even if they had to resurrect the Fuhrer himself to carry out the deed. Let's not even go there

    3. Let's get that straightApril 28, 2015 at 6:55 PM

      And if male circumcision is being carried out in places for other reasons that involves hygien or health or personal choice, then of course that practice should be outlawed, too. But again it's important to distinguish between FGM and MGM.

    4. What a revolting statement in the book. The reason there is "FGM" is because there is "GM". "F" is simply one kind of person it is done to -- the kind the public cares about. "M" GM is done for exactly the same reasons and has no inherent health benefits. But she reveals the real reason she cut her baby: "It looks so good" "His little penis was sticking up straight" "It was lovely to look at" "My son has a beautiful penis".

      As a mother, she thought it was appropriate to have an opinion about the look of her baby's penis. And then she decided to have it cut.

      She shouldn't be raising a dog, much less a human.

    5. Really, so there's an agenda against men geared at turning them into eunuchs and castrati, this in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe? So all along women have been fighting the wrong war, we thought that it was our sexuality men were trying to control when they have actually spent thousands of years attempting to curb their own.

      We can argue why male circumcision exists, but it should be picthed against the socities that do or don't and whether there's actually a need for it.

  4. Misconceptions about circumcision abound. It is an ancient cultural practice that has survived into modern times for a variety of reasons. The article below addresses some of the beliefs currently held by African women: