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Breast Ironing
Status: Real
When I posted last week about the surgical procedure of hymen repair (and how it's used to fake the appearance of virginity) some people commented that the practice was so widely known that it scarcely warranted inclusion on the site. These same people will doubtless also be familiar with the Cameroon practice of 'breast ironing', but it's new to me, so I'm guessing it'll be new to some other people as well.

According to the BBC, breast ironing:
"involves pounding and massaging the developing breasts of young girls with hot objects to try to make them disappear. Statistics show that 26% of Cameroonian girls at puberty undergo it, as many mothers believe it protects their daughters from the sexual advances of boys and men who think children are ripe for sex once their breasts begin to grow. The most widely used instrument to flatten the breasts is a wooden pestle, used for pounding tubers in the kitchen. Heated bananas and coconut shells are also used."
It sounds extremely unpleasant, but the BBC notes that there hasn't been any medical research into the medical effects of it (though doctors warn that it could cause serious damage), so I wonder if it actually prevents tissue growth. And if so, is it only a temporary effect or permanent? I suppose that if you damage the tissue enough it will stunt growth, but I would think that heavy exercise would have a greater effect and be a lot healthier (thin, athletic girls such as ballet dancers and competitive swimmers are known to start puberty later).
Body Manipulation
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 01, 2006 Comments (17)
Whether or not it's bad for you to have your breasts pounded with a wooden pestle strikes me as one of those medical studies we really don't need to make.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Crawford, Texas  on  Sat Jul 01, 2006  at  09:45 PM
what I really want to know more about is how effective a heated banana could be....!
Posted by katey  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  12:18 AM
Regardless, this is an intensely cruel procedure, as mentioned, but I really doubt that it is wide-spread in Cameroon, or anywhere else in Africa. Generally, in these central African nations, women's breasts are commonly exposed, and thought of as nothing more than the teats for milking children that they actually are. If the developing breasts attract adolescent boys, then it is time for them to get married. What is of much more concern, is the very real practice of clitoral excision, the so-called 'female circumcision', which is a misnomer, and translates to nothing less than brutal mutilation. Okay, now I'm going to go vomit.
Posted by stork  in  the spiracles of space  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  01:48 AM
There is a very similar procedure done in Western Societies that involves a woman's breast being slammed between heavy objects and flattened unnaturally.

It's called a mammogram blank stare

Mammograms, menopause, bladder weakness.
Please let me die young wink
Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  07:03 AM
Alex:
Getting back to the point, "breast ironing", like hymen repair, are perfectly legitimate issues for Museum of Hoaxes for the simple reason that they are both procedures done with the specific intent of duping others.
It doesn't matter if the fraud is perpetrated for cultural or religious reasons, or for self-indulgence or self-protection - it's still fraud. The more it's talked about, the better.

Nettie:
May I add pap smears and childbirth to your list? smile
Posted by Nightbringer  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  08:49 AM
I've had a mammogram, it was only slightly uncomfortable, and only for a minute or so. Wearing high heels for an hour is much more uncomfortable.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  11:34 AM
I shudder when I think about what they might do to young boys.... gulp
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  01:19 PM
Uh, nothing - they don't circumcise, either. Now, what they do to goats, on the other hand....
Posted by stork  in  the spiracles of space  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  01:23 PM
Nettie a mammogram is specifically used in the western world to check for abnormalities growths lumps etc.
Posted by Merve  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  05:02 AM
Stork: I was more thinking (as a joke) about the possibility of pounding and ironing typical male extremities...
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  05:33 AM
LaMa:
Google "penis ironing".
Am going to try and forget this entire thread now.
Posted by Nightbringer  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  07:01 AM
LaMa, Yes, I know, got it, cringed & shuddered. Now about those goats....
Posted by stork  in  the spiracles of space  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  06:04 PM
All right, Nightbringer, you suckered me.
I did a Google on "penis ironing."
I didn't find any references to straightening or flattening male organs, but there were a surprisingly large number of pages containing the words "ironing" (as in ironing clothes) and "penis" in the same sentence. Do those two concepts lurk near each other in our collective unconscious?
Posted by Big Gary  in  Tool, Texas  on  Tue Jul 04, 2006  at  11:09 AM
I had a mammogram when I was 21. No one is safe!

But really, what was that about beating breasts with a heated banana?
Posted by katey  on  Wed Jul 05, 2006  at  08:37 AM
breasts & hot bananas!! Deja vu, thats a little to close to a dream I had a while back.
Posted by Bill g  on  Fri Jul 07, 2006  at  03:04 PM
Just to inform this blog, I am currently a student from the United States studying in Cameroun. I am actually in the sub office of Flavien Ndonko (who did most of the research on breast ironing) while I am writing this because I plan to do a project on it. Believe me, it exists and I have met many women and young girls who have been permanantly mutilated by this practice. I am glad it has finally come out into the public and I hope everyone can appreciate the research that these anthropologists are performing on a subject that is more hush hush than female genital circumcision...

Cameroun
Posted by Cameroun  in  Cameroun  on  Thu Mar 15, 2007  at  07:47 AM
Hey LaMa and Nightbringer and Big Gary from 07/03/06:

I was just Googling "penis ironing" and came across your blog from last year. It's not Google's fault if a search doesn't return any satisfactory results. If nobody admits to doing it, that's not Google's fault.

I myself have been ironing my penis for almost 60 years now. Naturally it's a dangerous thing to do, as that's the last place you would want to get burned, or tear the skin. About 125 or 130 degrees F seems to be the maximum safe temperature possible.

Currently, Rowenta irons are the best at controlling temperature at low settings, while maintaining a steady heat for extended periods. I use the DE87.1C or the DM580 (hint: the lower the wattage and the heavier the iron, the better. What you want is a steady temperature and no surprises.). Also the DE480 has a removable water tank, which creats a lower profile, should you wish to use two irons in sandwich fashion. Another sandwich variation is to take all the plastic feet off of a flat kitchen griddle, stretch it out over your entire chest, which then will catch the underside of your penis, allowing you to use the iron of your choice on top.

If you wish to "imprison" your penis while ironing, a Singer CSP-1 Magic Steam Press will do the trick, holding a temperature for a long time, but it only "gets" one side at a time, unless you buy a second Press, and mount its heating element on the underside where the "ironing board" originally was (an idea not yet realized). As I am typing this, I have clamped a Sharper Image Ionic Hair Straightener in place sandwich fashion to catch both sides; but it's so small that it cools too fast, and it is a dangerous dude because it also heats so fast, therefore had to be modified with an external quick disconnect on/off power switch. Neat idea, but operationally high maintenance and a distraction.

Incidentally, you definitely do not want to "iron" your penis, as in moving the iron back and forth over your skin, like you were ironing a shirt. That's the quickest way to break the skin, which you definitely do not want to do. The correct movement is to "massage in place".

I hope this starts everyone off in the right direction.
Posted by Dean  in  Dallas  on  Wed Aug 29, 2007  at  07:05 PM
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