Female Circumcision

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It's the year 423 BCE, and the orders have just been sent out -- Every female is to be circumcised. Rumor has it that the newest Pharaoh is not very well-endowed and wants the females in his land to be circumcised to enhance his sexual pleasure (qtd. in Gruenbaum 43).

Although such an account seems amusing, female circumcision and its effects are real. It is thought that female circumcision has been around for at least twenty centuries (Gruenbaum 193). Despite its age, female circumcision is only recently being discussed and debated in the United States. In fact, the matter itself had not really been looked at nationally until 1975, "when the Australian delegation at the first U.N. conference on woman in Mexico City proposed a motion condemning it" (Greer 64). Since that time, opposition to female circumcision has been included as a part of American Human Rights Policy (Mackie 999). The U.S. agency for International Development is also assisting the "African organizations working to eradicate it" (qtd. in Mackie 999). Now the world knows about female circumcision and wants to do something about it, but change will not come suddenly due to its long tradition.

Female Circumcision is the cutting or removing of female genitalia. According to msn.com, female circumcision is "the practice of circumcision of adolescent women in some cultures that generally involves the surgical removal of the clitoris or the sewing up of the vaginal opening." There are many different names for this practice. Some refer to it as "female genital mutilation," and others call it "female genital cutting." Often times, the women who practice female circumcision are extremely offended by such terms; therefore the simplest, least offensive way to refer t...

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Greer, Germaine. "Why Genital Cutting Goes On." Newsweek International. (1999): 64.

Gruenbaum, Ellen. The Female Circumcision Controversy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

Mackie, Gerry. "Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account." American Sociological Review. 61 (1996): 999-1017.

Nour, Nawal. "Female Circumcision and Genital Mutilation: A Practical and Sensitive Approach." Contemporary OB/GYN. 45 (2001): 50-55.

Pulsipher, Abigail. Interview. Personal Interview. 1 Nov 2001.

Walker, Alice, Pratibha Parmar. Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Woman. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1993.

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