Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 21:03 PM EDT, 13 July 2011
CALIFORNIA - Catherine Kieu Becker who lives in Grove Garden, California, called 911 Emergency Services after she cut off her husband's penis and mangled it in a garbage disposal. This is not the first time that an American wife has cut off her husband's penis.
In 1984, Lorena Bobbitt severed the penis of her husband, John Bobbitt after he returned home and raped her following a night of heavy drinking. Unlike Catherine who mangled her husband's penis in the garbage disposal, Lorena left with the severed penis, drove a short while, then rolled down the car window and threw the penis into a field.
She subsequently stopped and called 911 and after an exhaustive search, the penis was located, packed in ice, and taken to the hospital where John Bobbitt was being treated. The penis was re-attached by Drs. James T. Sehn and David Berman during a nine-and-a-half-hour operation.[Wikipedia]
At this time, the reason for Catherine's assault are unknown. By contrast, Lorena Bobbitt revealed during her trial the volatile nature of her relationship with her husband. She told a packed courtroom that her husband sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her during their marriage and that John Bobbitt flaunted his infidelities, and had forced her to have an abortion. [Wikipedia]
What makes the cases against Catherine and Lorena so sensational is the visceral response men have to this crime. Their penises are a potent symbol of their manhood, are the instrument by which they can procreate or rape, and one of the most sensitive areas of their bodies. Because the perpetrators of these crimes are women, who in most societies are by and large viewed as passive victims, the only explanation offered is that they must be 'crazy.'
When a woman castrates a man, the action is tantamount to an insurrection by the 'weaker sex' and in any other country but America the offender would have been summarily executed. This was the case with a woman, known as Zarmina, executed by the Taliban at the Ghazi Sports Stadium, Kabul, November 16, 1999. She was a mother of seven children who killed her husband after he severely beat her.
Castration has been used as an instrument of war for thousands of years. After battles in some cases, winners castrated their captives or the corpses of the defeated to symbolize their victory and "seize" their power. The amount of media attention devoted to the rare incidents of male castration by females is inordinate compared to the global scourge of female genital mutilation.
Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) also known as Female Genital Cutting (FCC) or Female Circumcision has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as all non-surgically necessary procedures performed on girls and women to mutilate their genitalia. The damage wrought to these women's vaginas is heinous and equivalent to male castration but media attention to these crimes pale by comparison.
Although surgeons can reattach a man's penis there may be reduced performance, a female victim of FMG suffers life-long health issues. These include urinary and reproductive tract infections, caused by obstructed flow of urine and menstrual blood, various forms of scarring and infertility.
This is not an argument in support of what Catherine Kieu Becker and Lorena Bobbitt did to their husbands, but rather an indictment of societies that continue to support misogynistic practices that go unnoticed and unpunished around the world and in many North African countries explicitly required to preserve the 'sanctity' of a woman's chastity.
In the American justice system we are judged by a jury of our peers. In 1984 this judicial system declared Lorena not guilty due to insanity. The verdict is still out on Catherine Kieu Becker but it will be interesting to follow her case.
- Lorena Bobbitt and the politics of hate (avoiceformen.com)
- California ex-wife sentenced for cutting off husband's penis (cnn.com)
- Crime History: June 23, 1993: Lorena Bobbitt gains notoriety after slicing off husband's penis (dccrimestories.com)
- Crime History, June 23: Lorena Bobbitt cuts off husband's penis (dccrimestories.com)
- Lorena Bobbitt has moved on two decades after cutting off John Bobbitt's penis (nydailynews.com)