Essential Question: What are the contemporary issues surrounding female circumcision, and to what extent should it be eliminated by society?
On January 25th, I conducted an interview with Woodside’s art teacher, Ms. Marten. Originally, I had planned on interviewing Hanny Lightfoot-Klein who has been acknowledged as an expert on the female circumcision due to herextensive research in Africa between 1979 and 1984. Miss Lightfoot-Klein lives in Arizona and was unfortunately unavailable for an over-the-phone or “Skype” interview. After mentioning my struggle with Ms. Camera, she suggested I investigate if Ms. Marten’s anthropology studies offered insight on the cultural aspect of my subject. Ms. Marten confirmed this and agreed to do an interview during lunch inher classroom. She let me know that she would only be able to answer the cultural questions on female circumcision, so I changed my interview questions into ones she could answer. During the interview, I took notes of every answer and even recorded it for accuracy.
Question 1: From my research, I have found that cultures support female circumcision by explaining the traditional significance of thepractice as a means to promote a faithful marriage and discourage the enjoyment of sexual pleasure for a woman. Are there any religious aspects that can also provide justification for such a practice? If so, what religions?
(Factual/Research Based)Answer 1: Well, I guess what I would say is that you have to think of it in terms of belief systems. So, when people support female circumcision because of tradition and that women who are themselves saying, “No, I want to be circumcised”, and other communities saying that they should be circumcised that feeling ofwanting to comes from the desire to fulfill your social role, that you want to be a good person, you want to be a good woman (as defined by your culture and your tradition). Most traditions are really inseparable from religion. In most parts of the world, religion has grown up: it’s a mixture between, say, indigenous religions and a mixture of the major religions like: Islam, Christianity, or theother stuff. It’s hard to separate out where the roots come from necessarily for certain practices, but they operate as a whole, as a belief system inseparable from culture. Some of the major religions, especially the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, are all quite misogynistic as tradition and place women in a subservient role, obviously all coming from Genesis. [As detailed inGenesis], woman is made out of man, to please man, and to serve man. There is that misogynistic aspect that runs through it all and then Eve being to blame for the fall of humans because of deception, which is related to sexuality. So in all of Abrahamic religions, the idea of female guilt is very woven into them and the need to control female sexuality. In any place, say it’s in an African countrywhere they practice female circumcision, an Abrahamic religion is going to support that simply because of the elements of that religion: the need to control females, and the need to keep a female’s needs subservient.
Question 2: It is my understanding that women who are not circumcised are seen as impure and marrying such a woman is looked down upon. How would a community react to a womanundergoing the procedure as a means to simply find a husband?
Answer 2: I guess it would vary community by community a little bit, but I imagine many people in most communities would smile upon people sacrificing their ego and individuality for tradition. Most people would be like, “O.K., they’re stepping up to their social role, they’re stepping up to doing the right thing...