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Anth370 wk 8 FGC

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Julie Jenkins

on 30 October 2014

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Transcript of Anth370 wk 8 FGC

representations emphasize:
--"savage", stuck in tradition
--medical complications
--male patriarchy
WHO 1997
--“female genital mutilation is universally unacceptable because it is an infringement on the physical and psychosexual integrity of women and girls and is a form of violence against them”
--outright abolition or make safer?
HR Orgs
--Vienna World Conference on HR (1993)
--FGM classified as a 'VAW'
-'VAW' came under purview of international human rights law
But the representation and interventions are problematic for a number of reasons
tend to focus on health consequences, but:
--review of literature shows that this is based on problematic studies, often with no evidence presented at all
--health consequences exception, not the rule
representations often focus on 'worst' form of Infibulation, but this only accounts for 15% world wide
different types of circumcision:
WHO Classification
--Type 1: partial or total excision of the clitoris or its prepuce or both (clitoridectomy)
Type 2:
Partial or total excision of the clitoris in addition to labia minora or labia majora or both (excision)
Type 3:
--excision of part of the external genitalia and adhesion of the labia minora or majora or both to enclose the vulva (infibulation)
Type 4:
--all other unclassified procedures, including pricking, piercing, or stretching
Varies dramatically between contexts/settings
What about male circumcision?
--variation exists
--often in same societies that practice FGC
African/Muslim cultures - oppressive
--US/UK - free
Women enslaved to evil, irrational tradition
--US/UK-- transcend tradition through rationality
All forms are severe
-- although lots of different forms, varying in experience
"Discourse is also practice; it is not simply a way of understanding or thinking about the world, it is also a way of acting it"
focus on FGC could detract from other more pressing concerns
--Gates "Is it after all unreasonable to be suspicious of Westerners who are exercised over female circumcision, but whose eyes glaze over when the same women are merely facing starvation?"
how to not get stuck in 'either/or' terms-- cultural relativism or politically informed outrage
--FGC doesn't exist as a category-- diversity in practice/place
--embedded in various meanings and politics
Sudan (most often infibulation)
--movement against strong, with health campaigns, Islamic leaders taking a stand against
--but numbers still remain high
--FGC a 'symbol' about social structure of society & conceptions of the body & sexuality
--male satisfaction
--failure to conform to ideals risks ostracism and failure to attract desirable partner
--embedded in women's position in society
--focus on socializing women's sexuality/virginity provides protection
--provides avenue for social power in relation to children
"Not 'prisoners of ritual', they are actively engaged in debating this aspect of their culture-- and struggling with the social meanings attributed to women's bodies"
Western Kenya- Sabaot - clitoridectomy
--rite of passage
-confers adulthood, marriageability
--test to show no pain
also patrilineal & patrilocal
--but sexual play allowed/expected before circumcision
--channels sexuality into the patri context
----women age - sets-- access to ritual secrets
--voices can be contradictory and inconsistent
"Africa, parts of Asia, & Middle-East"?
Full transcript