Has a highly upvoted answer which is unsourced and unfactual. Despite my efforts in comments and my own answer to suggest improvements this has not been met productively.
It is worth noting that this answer gets basic facts wrong - no anthropologist in this area would agree with the statement that:
The cultures that perform such acts clearly intend to suppress female sexuality by reducing sexual pleasure.
For a critical review of FGC by world leading experts see "Seven Things to Know about Female Genital Surgeries in Africa". This can be accessed here:
This was written by a multidisciplinary panel of obstericians/gynaecologists who have work with women who have undergone FGM/C, anthropoligsts, feminists and legal expert. It is a non-biased review with authors who advocate radically different policies elsewhere - these are not "FGM apologists" but physicians (& others) who are concerned about the overly sensationalised and overly heated debate about FGC. The physician signatories treat women with FGC and often have to debunk harmful myths about FGC and sexuality. This Hasting Centre report is expert consensus from people who work in the field. They find that:
Research by gynaecologists and others has found that a high percentage of women with [FGC] have rich sexual lives including desire, arousal, orgasm and satisfaction
They also find that:
The association between patriarchy and [FGC] is not well established
[FGC] is typically controlled and managed by women.
Put bluntly there is little empirical evidence to support the statement given in the answer above. In some cultures FGC is expressive of problematic attitudes to female sexuality/virginity/chastity but this is not a distinctive feature of cultures which practice FGC.
The central point I want to make - This answer ignores the only instance where the USA law on FGM has been invoked, namely the production of Dr Jamala Nagarwala. Nagarwala is from a sect of Islam, the Dawoodi Bohra who practice sunnah/khatna a form of FGC involving a "ritual nick" to the clitoral hood. No tissue is removed. Given that this is the only instance where the US law on FGM has been applied, I think any answer needs to at least mention this aspect of the US laws on FGC - it's not an irrelevance, it was what the only prosecution brought for FGM in the US hinged upon. Not addressing this facet of the issue seems bizarre. The answer is question does not answer the question as a whole but merely addresses a relatively tangential point comparing one (relatively more extreme) form of FGC with MC. This comparison is a common one to come up in this area but does little to address the topic as a coherent whole - although the author clearly does not intend it, it is sort of a "cherry picked" example which deflects away from the crux of the issue- Western law censured all forms of FGC even those considerably less invasive than MC.
To address a point raised by divibisan in the comments - there is actually no distinction made in the West (UN/WHO and US law) between FGM and "ritual nicking"/minor forms of FGM. They are treated as a single homogeneous entity - any form of ritual genital cutting performed on girls is described as FGM. In that sense the original question is misleading with the phrase "clitoridectomies on minors for non-medical reasons is type I", implying that only more extreme forms of cutting are considered as FGM. I have raised this point before in comments. I also do not see why the original question does not see fit to mention the first FGM case in the US - this case would seem to neatly encapsulate much of the politics in this area.
Due to Western bias and a lack of understanding of FGC in the mainstream this answer (which is factually unfounded and unsourced) has been highly upvoted and is obviously seen first. My answer which extensively referenced experts and the academic literature has been generally ignored, despite presenting evidence from international experts. It does not seem in the spirit of this site that unsourced and one-sided answers can be so highly upvoted and calls for greater rigour and citations have been ignored. What can be done to improve this aspect of the site?
It seems clear that at least some standard of evidence is needed to back up factual statements, and if asked for citations this should be met constructively, not repeatedly ignored - the answer in question still has zero citations. This answer relies heavily on "common sense" and "common knowledge" - in other areas I am prepared to accept "common knowledge", but when empirical evidence has been supplied which suggests "common knowledge" is based on unsubstantiated tropes that requests for citations/substantiation should be met constructively.
(Full disclosure- I am undoubtedly not a neutral observer on the issue. I share the belief of many that both FGC and MC are wrong, for the same reasons of bodily integrity/autonomy. However most Westerners have little understanding of FGC and have only heard highly sensationalised stories on the ramifications of FGC, and whether intentionally or not will give a "biased" answers by presenting only certain well-known facts. This topic requires far more nuance than is usually applied, and a careful examination of what we know, and what is actually (harmful) activist rhetoric.)
To address the answer to this Meta question - the answer in question relies almost entirely on the premise presented here:
"as acts of oppression against women, since the cultures that perform such acts clearly intend to suppress female sexuality by reducing sexual pleasure. Those activities and beliefs are antithetical to the ideals and values of the US, and it is impossible to monitor individual procedures to ensure they conform to the mildest type, so the entire range of practices has been outlawed."
The answer in question relies entirely on an unsubstantiated claim that FGC is intended solely to oppress female sexuality, despite my presenting evidence which clearly shows that this is a misleading and unsubstantiated trope in the West. There is also no citation which substantiates the claim that "it is impossible to monitor individual procedures to ensure they conform to the mildest type, so the entire range of practices has been outlawed". This is just speculation, or "common sense".
Furthermore the idea that:
"the US focuses on those cases where the clitoris or parts of the labia are removed, caustic materials are used destroy genital sensitivity, or other permanent damage is inflicted on the female genitalia"
Seems contradicted by the fact that the 1st US case brought under the FGM law was for a form of FGC far less invasive than MC. That a case has been brought under the FGM law in the US seems completely ignored by both this answer and any other answer. This particular legal case showcases clearly a contradiction in US law which both this answer and other answer would hold does not exist.
And in response to this question on Meta:
"he argued that removal of the clitoris still allowed women to feel sexual pleasure and reach orgasm. I suppose that is arguably true, which is why I edited it to compare it to removing the glans (head of the male penis); but it is so argumentative and so thoroughly beside the point that it defies any kind of rational or sensible response."
I do not see this point as "thoroughly beside the point" given that the premise of the answer is that FGC is intended to suppress female sexuality. It seems difficult to state "this is arguably true", when I have provided reference to studies performed by senior gynaecologists who run clinics for women with FGC/M which clearly demonstrates this fact. This point seems to the foundation for this answer: "Male circumcision, whatever its pros and cons, does not significantly interfere with reproduction or sexual pleasure" whereas by contrast it is held that FGC is "[done] explicitly to remove the clitoris and destroy a woman's capacity to enjoy sex". Again - I have provided references from gynaecologists & anthropologists who state unequivocally that such statements are untrue and unsubstantiated. And indeed I invited people to reconsider their answers in response to this - the response seemed to be a grudging withdrawal of the most clearly false claims, without changing the overall statements.
Currently the answer still makes the false and unsubstantiated claim that "the cultures that perform such acts clearly intend to suppress female sexuality by reducing sexual pleasure", despite this being an misleading extrapolation from a few cultures, with no consideration of the majority of cultures which perform FGC having no such intention. When challenged on this, the response was along the lines of "you can't believe the reasons which these people give" - I admit I responded aggressively to this comment. I find this comment absolutely unacceptable - it seems to rely on a privileged position in the global North where such assertions can go unchallenged by the far less powerful/influential global South, where practising communities are rarely given a voice in discussions around their cultural practices. It also seems to completely deny the expertise of anthropologists who have been immersed in these cultures to make their observations - is the suggestion that these anthropologists are fools who have been taken in? Are their studies entirely meaningless due to the "common knowledge" expressed in the answer under question? It also seems to paint a picture of these mothers as "fools" and "monsters", when neither is in fact a reasonable representation. From the Hasting Centre report above:
"The voices of African women who support female and male genital modification for their children and themselves have not been adequately represented in the media or in public policy forums. These parents are neither monsters nor fools: like parents everywhere, they want to do the right thing for their children and are concerned about their children’s health. Nor are they necessarily uneducated or ignorant or helpless prisoners of an insufferably dangerous tradition that they themselves would like to escape, if only they could find a way out."