Gerard Zwang

Presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations,
University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 9-11, 1996.

Beyond any immediate complications, some of which can often be fatal, infant sexual mutilation always has consequences for erotic function.

The harm of female genital mutilation is most dramatic. Prior to first coitus, the clitoris is usually the only source of female orgasm. It has the obligatory role of activation-establishment of the epigenetic connection of the orgasmic circuit. If this neural reflex circuit is not active during childhood it will never be functional. In the months or years following first coition, intra-vaginal penetration cannot trigger an orgasm unless this circuit is functional. Ablation of the clitoris during the infancy prevents the establishment of the reflex circuit, and the woman will never be able to experience clitoral or vaginal pleasure.

In males, the erotic function of the prepuce is usually to serve as intermediary for manual stimulation of the glans. The sexual partners of circumcised males have a decreased ability to stimulate the circumcised penis. This necessarily constitutes an important functional disfunction in terms of the necessary foreplay to intercourse. Many newly circumcised adult males complain of hypersensitivity of the glans. They succumb to premature ejaculation, a dysfunction that is epidemic in the United States.

[The complete paper is published in Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy, New York: Plenum Press, 1997 (ISBN 0-306-45589-7).]

Gerard Zwang was born in Paris in 1930. He has made his career as a urologic surgeon and has contributed significantly to the scientific study of sexuality. In 1975, with his colleagues in Montpellier, he described the arterial origin of most cases of impotence. His first publication, Le Sexe de la Femme (1967), denounced female sexual mutilation, and in 1977, he participated in the first international press conference, held in Geneva, against these mutilations. Among his other works, La Statue de Freud, a thorough refutation of psychoanalysis, and a Historie des Peines de Sexe. In 1990 he was awarded the Prix du Medecine for his Pathologie Sexuelle, and in 1988, he was awarded the Prix Medecine et Culture for his life's work.

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