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Lecture 7

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th Wednesday February 29 , 2012 Confronting Colonial Interventionists Genital Mutilation  Both gender and generational relations have not been static, but have changed over time o How have these changes shaped or limited interventionists and how has this issue divided people into different groups?  Female Circumcision in Kenya o This history of female circumcision in the rest of Africa has yet to be written o As gender is socially constructed, so too is sexuality  There is nothing natural about sexuality  Sexual practices, what is deviant, etc., is all dependent on what is socially acceptable o Not all women in Kenya were circumcised, it was often limited to certain cultural groups o Female circumcision is likened to male circumcision o Some have argued that in both cases the aim is to make clean  First, the clitoris was perceived as representing the masculine element in a girl, just as the foreskin represents the feminine in a boy – to remove these elements, they have to be removed  Second, it was believed that the clitoris is an aggressive organ – it is seen as threatening the penis and the baby alike – they would argue that without an operation the woman would not have healthy children  Third, in some societies, the female genitalia were considered dirty and ugly and so female circumcision would be done for beauty and cleanness o The practice of female circumcision has many medical problems, however is sociological functions were profound  In some societies, women were not seen as adults until they were circumcised – they were not able to marry, own property, or take public office  Without circumcision they were subject to severe psychological torment and were outcast  Circumcision was a focal point of initiation and all initiation ceremonies were considered as integral to the assertion of the groups unity and loyalty – if you were not circumcised, you are asserting your independence and disloyalty to your group o An attempt was made in the 1850s to intro
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