Who Defines "Mutilation"? Challenging Imperialism in the Discourse of Female Genital Cutting
Abstract

Abstract:

The article is situated within the academic feminist movement that questions universalizing approaches to understanding oppressions of women. It seeks to challenge the hegemony of traditional Western feminist discourse in framing the debate surrounding female genital cutting (FGC). The argument is that FGC is not a "barbaric, uncivilized, and mutilating practice" that happens in uniform, primordial societies. The article critiques this ethnocentric rhetoric and also provides an alternative approach to studying, discussing, and understanding FGC. It does so by interviewing women who are affected by FGC, constructing discourse and action based upon their experiences, and opening the discussion to also include practices of sex-based body modification found in the West. Engaging with and privileging women affected by the practices, and exercising cultural reflection in the process, could result in a new discursive framing based upon equal participation in the discussion and nonimperialist, transnational feminist activism. This is both the end goal and argument of the article.