photo blog_head_zpsfscr4tie.jpg
More adventurous than the average bear

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Complicating the FGM Narrative

African women on the right to female circumcision:

Statement by African Women Are Free to Choose (AWA-FC), Washington DC, (...)

"We are also deeply affected by the inflammatory impact of language such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). We declare categorically that this language is offensive, demeaning and an assault against our identities as women, our prerogatives to uphold our cultural definitions of womanhood including determining for ourselves what bodily integrity means to us African women from ethnic groups that practice female and male initiation as parallel and mutually constitutive processes in our societies.

We declare that thus far the representation of female circumcision (FC) - its social and ideological meaning in terms of gender and female sexuality and impact, if any, on reproductive health and psychosexual wellbeing has been over the last thirty years dominated by a small but vocal number of African women that make up the Inter-African Committee (IAC) with the enormous backing, if not outright instigation of powerful western feminist organizations and media personalities. Through aggressive use of the media to portray African women as passive and powerless victims of barbaric, patriarchal African societies, their efforts have succeeded in influencing and tainting the objectivity of such institutions as WHO and UNICEF, among other international organizations that have taken the lead role in promulgating anti-FGM policies and legislation worldwide.

Through political pressure from first world countries on whose aid they continue to depend as well as internal political expediency, several African countries have introduced anti-FGM legislation over against the full knowledge, participation and desires of the majority of affected women...

The assertion that FC violates the rights of children falters in the face of WHO’s promotion of routine neonatal male circumcision (MC) to protect against HIV infection in Southern African. Incidentally, circumcised African women also have some of the lowest rates of HIV infection among women in the world, so why the double standard?...

The minority must respect the choices and freedom of the bulk of practitioners to positively define their own experiences and bodies. This is a key cornerstone of any modern liberal, democratic and plural society... The minority of uncircumcised women in Sierra Leone, as elsewhere in Africa, must have the freedom to remain uncircumcised if they so wish (and many do request circumcision); and, for those already circumcised who wish to abandon the practice, we advocate for and stand with the Government in protecting their rights to not circumcise their own children. This is true, non-coercive abandonment...

[The objective is] to manipulate and coerce circumcised women into submission, that is, to give up a practice that is culturally meaningful to many African women. We question the appeal to a common sisterhood by our western feminist sisters who pretend they do not have a stake in seeing their own uncircumcised bodies as “normal”, “healthy”, and “whole” and therefore morally superior to our own supposedly “mutilated” African bodies...

In that small place in Kenema you are showing the world that ours is not just about training women to be good wives and mothers (another myth constructed by our feminist critics and oft repeated from our own culturally ignorant western educated mouths) but that ours is a militant African feminist indigenous institution equipped with a hierarchy and election process that was set in place long before the very western feminist organizations that ridicule us now came into existence and won the right for their own women to vote in their male constructed and dominated social worlds. While our Bondo women warriors fought and died together with our Poro brothers in revolts against colonial injustices, where were our western feminist sisters who are today so interested in the intactness of our genitalia?...

If someone is itching to receive an international journalist of the year award and a free trip to the UN in New York, it will not be at the expense of our culture and our bodies....

Prior to the civil rights movement, it was commonplace and uncontroversial for whites to refer to blacks by the n-word (and many blacks to refer to themselves as such, as some do today); the moral inferiority of blacks was not really in question. However, there is no doubt that the use of the n-word then (as it still does today) caused resentment and anger among many blacks. Similarly, the term FGM causes resentment and anger among circumcised women, even though the common perception of the day is that we are mutilated and hence morally inferior to so-called intact women.

In our local languages we too have vulgar terms for uncircumcised women, which is the marked category in our cultures. Even when used by circumcised women to refer to other circumcised women in a derogatory way it is an automatic provocation that spurs violence. In your proclamation against FGM you have given, albeit unwittingly, license to a minority group to use insulting language against the majority of women. If Bondo women were to respond by using their own vulgarities to refer to uncircumcised women there would be all out war among women in Sierra Leone eventually and inevitably - unknowingly or unintentionally triggered by the US Embassy...

The global feminist movement to eradicate female circumcision in Africa (and anywhere else) masks what is in fact a global movement to standardize and universalize the white European female body as the cultural, psychic and moral ideal...

We ask that you consider what is happening to the minds of some of our immigrant daughters in western countries as they watch the sensationalist media spectacles of young circumcised African women who, in order to break into the modeling industry, accept invitations to publicly condemn their bodies as mutilated (as a couple of their infamous, albeit tragic predecessors did previously in bestselling tell-all books) on talk shows, reality TV, as well as magazine spreads where they exhibit their barely clothed bodies for the gaze and wonderment of the western world. We ask how different is the circulation and consumption of these images from that of South African “Hottentot” women paraded around Victorian circles; their photos eliciting feelings of sexual horror in a perturbing voyeurism engaged in by those (both European men and their wives) with the power to gaze as well as to define the “other”.

In that Victorian era, when white European women were defined as sexually repressed they projected their fears (in complicity with their husbands) onto African women who were viewed as sexually licentious and immoral. Today, to the extent that the descendants of these women view themselves as sexually liberated (calling attention to their external clitoris as the phallic symbol of theirs and so all women’s liberation and autonomy) they project their fears of past repression onto circumcised African women, who given their deliberate excision of the external clitoris, are conveniently marked as sexually repressed and passive...

How do you condone the routine circumcision of your sons, if this is the case in your own cultures, and react emotively to the idea of the circumcision of girls? Do you see no issue with the increasing popularity of Beverly Hills 90210 genital cosmetic surgeries among well to-do western women, including clitoral and labia reductions, vaginal rejuvenation or tightening and even restoration of the hymen?...

We will, however, also insist on the rights of African women to continue their traditions if they so choose and will challenge and protest any unjust laws and policies that unfairly discriminate against them... This is not a subversive idea or a radical one, it is the principle of pro-choice and respect for privacy applied to African women; it is the same principle that supports a woman’s right to abortion, though critics view this as the killing (read: worse than mutilating) of an innocent child; it is the same principle that supports the right of a sixteen year old to opt for genital and bodily piercings, though others may see this as mutilating and repulsive; it is the same principle that invokes sympathy for gender confused individuals and supports their right to radical surgery to change their genitalia and gender.

As for those girls too young to give consent, we must accord to their parents the same rights we accord to the parents of boys in neonatal male circumcision and not discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity or country of origin"


In other words female circumcision is misrepresented
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes