FGM/female “circumcision” and cultural practices

Check out this article:
The whole concept of female “circumcision” (I use quotes because its hard not to impose western ideologies about torture and mutilation upon the practice) is a hard one for me to grasp. Perhaps it is the cultural reasoning behind the practice is what I feel I have yet to grasp. It is so easy to sit in this comfortable home in the “civilized” western world and judge a practice based on some sort of western ideology, but I’m not sure that that can be considered a fair analysis of the practice. Doesn’t that cause the same sort of problematic colonial issues? Granted, in the article, women from the same culture confirm that FGM is indeed a problem. So what is my rambling point here? Where does the problem lie? Why do I have such a problem with the article? 
While the writing in the article seems fair and balanced and just touches on the involvement of outside human rights groups, I couldn’t help but thinking of comparing it to a common cultural practice in the west, plastic surgery. Sure, women aren’t tied down and involuntarily have someone fill their chest with silicone or break their nose to “re-sculpt” it, but if it isn’t involuntary directly, you could still make the claim of social and cultural influence. (even the phrase “re-sculpt” is so problematic for me because it evokes thoughts of a male sculptor creating the “perfect” image of a woman from an inanimate object.)

Feel free to put me in my place if I am way off base here, or if I’ve offended anyone by making the comparison, that was not my intention. I just wanted to point out how seriously we need to examine cultural practices and the blind acceptance of them because of tradition. So, with that being said, what do you think?

(ultimately I placed this post in the Body Image category, but it could have gone into a number of other categories probably.)

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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