Female Circumcision

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  1. Talle, Somalia - description
    • most extreme form of circumcision - infibulation
    • removal of inner, outer labia and closure of vulva
    • done without anesthetic and antiseptic
    • performed young (8-10)
  2. infibulation - gender
    • dramatises difference between male and female organs - constitutes gender
    • "hard" parts carved away
    • = clarity to female/male distinction
    • propagates gender identity
  3. infibulation - gender not dependent on sex
    • surgery reinforced a primordial, genetic dichotomy¬†
    • that biology is in fact "partly constructed"
    • example how gender is not dependent on sex
  4. infibulation - personhood
    • as women become more feminine, become more human
    • rebirth
    • women "created" as females and gendered persons
  5. infibulation - purification
    • to leave a girl uncut is disgusting and unnatural
    • virgin = high bride wealth
    • better marriage prospects and social mobility
  6. infibulation - pressure
    • constant pressure on uninfibulated girls
    • many initate own operation earlier
    • persuade parents or do it themselves
    • aspect of choice
  7. Shweder argument
    • Western indignation against FGM misguided and misinformed
    • lacks a sense of cultural pluralism and understanding
  8. Shweder - Western argument inc health
    • Western view points out "disastrous health effects" combined with social injustices it perpetuates...
    • ...constitues as a barrier to african development

    • WHO condems FGM
    • "domineering patriarchs and brainwashed matriarchs"
    • Obermeyer -argues no evidence of devastating health effects¬†
    • points out to many methodological flaws and quality control of examining health practises
  9. Shweder ethnographic example
    • Kono girls, Sierra Leone
    • feel empowered by initiation/gender identity ceremonies
    • cutting makes women more admirable/courageous/mature/womanly
  10. Shweder - different notions of beauty
    • Kono men and women find circumcised genitals cleaner/more beautiful
    • Western - emphasises patriarchal oppression
    • BUT similar beauty practises also seen in the West!
    • eg breast augmentation
    • braces - parents forcing children to undergo pain yet considered a healthy practice
    • done for asethetics/childs benefit

    patriarchal dominace - most societies practise both female and male or just male - by practising on both closes gender distinction
  11. Shweder conclusions on different notions of beauty
    • instead of assuming our own perceptions of beauty are universal..
    • ...we should consider there is a real cultural divide between aesthetic and moral reactions to cutting
    • we need to bracket out emotional/automatic responses
Card Set
Female Circumcision
Female Circumcision
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