Female Circumcision Reader Response

Conn 1 Jennifer Conn Professor Michael Hickman GWRTC 103 –Sect. 61 15 April 2013 Reader Response #3 Though Meyerhardt states that the opening account on female circumcision seemed “Amusing”, I personally found it far more disturbing. I was very shocked and disgusted while reading this piece, as I am sure my classmates were as well. The “small opening left for urination and menstruation . . . held open by a single piece of straw which is left there during the healing process” (1) forced me to feel that is an unbelievably unnatural, dehumanizing practice. I was extremely curious about what cultural beliefs supported this practice.
When coming to the supposed health reasons and seeing how flawed and inaccurate they all were, I was unable to keep an open mind or continue trying to understand this practice. The idea of “looking at each other’s genitals to see who had the smallest opening” (2) struck me in a large way. This procedure that is done for society, for a future husband, and for acceptance, seems to take away from the woman. It is as if her body does not truly belong to her. I thought it was interesting and important for the author to include the effect of cultural relativism on the reader.
I know that my lack of experience and understanding of the topic, as well as the way of life influences my opinion towards the procedure. Throughout the piece, I was unable change my perception of female circumcision as horrid. Though she seemed to go back and forth in the second half of the essay, the author seemed to have bias as well. I could see the vague connection to culture dominating a woman’s view and treatment of her body. In this way, the procedure seems similar to eating disorders in America. In fact, eating disorders come across as far more deadly.

However, I feel that the connection was weak and overdramatized especially when the author stated, “in America, being fat and ugly, for some, is a fate worse than death”(3). If this was true, and our culture was as consistent with our beliefs, then we would not have obesity rates as high as they are today. The statement that plastic surgery in America by trained professionals causes “as much pain” as “midwives [using] whatever is lying around: a razor, a knife, a broken bottle” (3) is absurd. Safe, comfortable, controlled cosmetic surgery is not widespread, made by someone’s own will, and often looked down upon.
The fact that eating disorders are not accepted in our society destroys this analogy to female circumcision. Another poor analogy attempted by Meyerhardt can be found in the beginning of the piece. The author connects children no longer making funny faces due to slight unjustified fear to the cutting off of female genitalia. Though the “thought of looking odd and malformed scared us enough to stop” in both circumstances, the examples are extremely different. Funny faces are not natural, and little is required to stop making them. Possessing female genitalia is natural however, and the removal of it is dangerous.
This analogy downplays the extremity of female circumcision, and does not work. This piece was interesting, and informative on a topic I had known nothing about. For many reasons, it was my impulse to reject the idea of female circumcision and find it horrifying. There seemed to be no truly justified reasoning for why it is still happening, aside from traditional. Though the author attempted to describe opposing views, I found them very weak and confusing. I was unable to connect this procedure with concepts in American life, or accept the vague, unrealistic, positive ending that the author provided.

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