Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood: Disputing U.S. Polemics

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Stanlie Myrise James, Claire C. Robertson
University of Illinois Press, 2002 - Social Science - 169 pages
Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood is a much-needed response to the ethnocentric and arrogant Western perceptions surrounding female genital cutting (FGC), often referred to as either female genital mutilation or female circumcision, but including a variety of practices of varying history, severity, geographical distribution, and consequences.

In five provocative essays, the contributors to this timely volume challenge representations of FGC through a range of perspectives: history, human rights, law, missionary feminism, cultural relativism, anthropology, and the intersex movement. Balancing feminist ideals with culturally conscious approaches, they dispel sensationalized and widely accepted concepts that influence Western media, law, and feminist thought on FGC, including the ignorance and oversimplification of African history, cultures, and religions, and an exaggeration of the extent and geographical distribution of the various procedures performed. The assumption that FGC does not occur presently in the United States is also considered. From Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar's documentary film Warrior Marks to mainstream media and prime time television, Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood critiques the sources that perpetuate the harmful myths that all African women have been mutilated and promote doing so to their children, that those who perform it are barbaric, and that families who allow it are abusive.

With sensitivity and clarity, the contributors to Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood provide necessary and alternative suggestions for the eradication of the most harmful procedures--which they feel can only occur when the leadership of African women in the ongoing campaigns is acknowledged and supported, and when income generation for African women and education of the U.S. public, rather than criminalization, become primary strategies.

 

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Brief yet satisfying take on the view that Western feminist objections to female genital cutting (mutilation, circumcision, etc.) is almost certainly counterproductive because it is inevitably racist ... Read full review

Contents

Position Paper on Clitoridectomy and Infibulation
1
Feminism Anthropology and
15
Rethinking U S Approaches
54
Reflections around Female
87
Eradication Measures at
114
Cultural Practice or Reconstructive Surgery?
126
Advocacy Organizations Opposed to Female
153
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About the author (2002)


Stanlie M. James is chair of the Afro-American Studies Department and professor of African American studies and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a coeditor of Theorizing Black Feminisms. Claire C. Robertson is professor of history and women's studies at the Ohio State University and the author of Trouble Showed the Way: Women, Men, and Trade in the Nairobi Area, 1890-1990 and other books.

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