Disputatio:Mutilatio genitalium muliebrium

Active discussions

"Mutilatio genitalis feminae"Recensere

Be careful of inserting a POV! The modern-language phrase from which this comes (in English, female genital mutilation) is contested, in some cases by people who have undergone one of the many procedures being discussed here—a practice that, in contradistinction to the sense of the article's present definition, has many varieties, from symbolic nicking to complete resection. Lumping them all together as the same thing, whatever it's called, can be seen as NPOV, especially when a pejorative word, like mutilation, serves for the lumped concept. Many African anthropologists, defending academic neutrality, prefer the term female genital cutting—which has the virtue of being scientifically descriptive and socially nonjudgmental. (The debate on this point was documented several years ago in an issue of the academic journal Africa Today.) Similarly, calling male circumcision a mutilation can be regarded as polemical rhetoric, not the expression of a NPOV. IacobusAmor (disputatio) 18:41, 27 Februarii 2013 (UTC)

Delinquency, disguised in scientific neutrality and desciptiveness, may be a (crypto-)political stance, and POV. In this particular case, the problem is that the ritual, however we decide to call it, is characteristically performed on (and forced upon) children. If the more or less nice "cutting" is done on consentient adults who out of deep religious conviction or respect for mos maiorum are willing to undergo such a ritual, felt to be profoundly significant, there seems to be no big moral issue involved. I don't know the discussion in Africa Today, but somehow I got the impression that anthropologists tend to regard religion or mos maiorum as exempt from such virtually universal moral codes as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. To say the least, a clear POV is involved here. Neander (disputatio) 11:55, 28 Februarii 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I think I agree, Neander. I note also that words felt to be judgmental in English are not necessarily judgmental in Latin. We aim not to be judgmental, but to say things as they are. Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 14:01, 28 Februarii 2013 (UTC)
The problem isn't entirely judgmentalism: it's that some of the practices supposedly being addressed in this article don't involve mutilation. IacobusAmor (disputatio) 15:38, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)
I agree on both points. If we want to say things as they are, with the added value of descriptive precision and correct Latinity, the title should be Mutilatio genitalium puellarum. Latin mutilare isn't judgmental but descriptive of cutting off something functionally necessary. And the "benefited one" of this ritual performance is typically a puella. Neander (disputatio) 14:05, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)
Someone hasn't been paying attention. The current definition, "Mutilatio genitalis feminae est truncatio genitalium," is FALSE. The practice in question does NOT always involve the resection of genitalia: it includes nonmutilating procedures. The text would be closer to reality if it followed the WHO's definition: "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." Note that the notion after the conjunction or, if applied to males, would prohibit nonmedically required male circumcision (and superincision and subincision), not to mention various other genital enhancements enjoyed around the world, including implanting ball bearings under the skin of the penis. IacobusAmor (disputatio) 14:29, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)
Someone else hasn't been paying attention to the fact that this someone is concerned with children, in this particular case, girls. Let consentient adults do whatever operations they wish. Neander (disputatio) 14:46, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)
That political position, shared by yours truly, has no bearing on the accurary of the definition. Why not translate the WHO's text. Then the definition would have the virtue of not being false. IacobusAmor (disputatio) 14:48, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)
We lack a pope right now, but, in his place, we have a whole organization whose pronouncements have the virtue of not being false. That's lucky :) Andrew Dalby (disputatio) 14:29, 7 Martii 2013 (UTC)
Well, why not. The reason why I substituted, en passant, truncatio for mutilatio in the original text was that definitions à la "X is X" aren't definitions at all. But I agree that the WHO's text gives a workable definition. Neander (disputatio) 15:04, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)

Anthropological resourcesRecensere

For those interested in this topic, the pertinent issue of the aforementioned academic journal is Female Genital Cutting (Africa Today, 53.4)]. Here's the beginning of the editors' introduction, "Anthropological Perspectives on Female Genital Cutting: Embodying Tradition, Violence, and Social Resilience":

Anthropology grew out of a commitment to study and discuss humanity, in variation and sameness, across time and space. Given its disciplinary penchant for holism and historical context, anthropologists have produced millions of pages describing and debating who we humans are, and how and into whom we have changed over time. Female genital cutting (FGC) has been a topic of perennial anthropological interest because of the variablility of its forms; how those forms are represented; and how and why they are, quite often, targeted for eradication by activists in continental Europe, Britain, and the United States—the three major homes of academic anthropology and the constituents of the so-called West. While most commonly practiced in Africa, FGC became increasingly relevant in Western societies because of colonial entanglements, and it remains so as a corollary of migration and incorporation of populations with strikingly different cultural heritages. As such, it indexes a fascinating otherness for members of nonpracticing, Western communities.
This special issue of Africa Today, an outgrowth of a panel at the American Anthropological Association meeting in Washington, D.C., in 2005, highlights how the topic of FGC engages anthropologists' peculiar position as sociocultural critics and potential collaborative reformers. A recent news item on BBC World News opened with the following: "Kenyan villagers have been shocked by the death of a girl who bled to death after trying to perform female genital mutilation on herself" (23 June 2006). The first line, and the events that led to the story, speak to the complexities of the FGC debates, and to the immediate tendency for the reader to separate "us" and "them." How can we understand why a 15-year-old would do this? Do we respond in terms of cultural relativism, or politically informed outrage (Walley 1997:406)? To anthropologists, the idea of girls circumcising themselves is not new (see, for example, Thomas 1996); nor is it new to the women, who, when denied the opportunity to follow tradition, sang the song "I will circumcise myself" as they performed punitive hard labor in colonial Meru, Kenya. What have we learned from anthropologists who have produced historical particularist works on the varieties of FGC, from those who have passionately condemned it as female genital mutilation, to those who have lived through culturally transcendent rich moments and been protective of newly circumcised women? How can observers make sense of these reactions to procedures that have become a major target of global activism, one mostly oriented toward eradication? And what can and should we propose about the future of such practices, especially where they form core parts of adult identities in the societies where they continue?
The researchers featured in this issue approach these questions through insights derived from fieldwork that spans two and a half decades, archival research that covers centuries, and geographic foci that traverse the African continent and beyond. The papers explore outsider and insider perspectives on FGC, concentrating on the attitudes of the individuals and groups that practice various forms of it, as well as on the effects and efficacy of indigenous and nonindigenous efforts to alter or stop it. By drawing on the past, present, and future of anthropological treatments of FGC, the authors implicitly and explicitly discuss the roles that anthropologists can play as public intellectuals, policymakers, and activists.
Throughout this issue, we use the term female genital cutting as a general category, which includes procedures described below as types 1, 2, or 3, or the remainder category of type 4. The term female genital mutilation (FGM) appears in this issue, but only when we quote a source or use the phrase or acronym in keeping with those other sources. These terms, female genital cutting and female genital mutilation, are usually intended to elicit specific responses. Some researchers prefer still other terms (e.g., female circumcision, female genital operations, female genital torture). . . .

Perhaps other scientifically oriented resources are available online. IacobusAmor (disputatio) 15:38, 2 Martii 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for interesting reading! These are sore subjects but let me nevertheless add a few not-very-informed thoughts of mine. Those cases involving planned or self-made FGM's, cited in the above text, raise an issue that might be approached in terms of body image identity. In those cases, it looks like the brains of those people were telling them that they're not supposed or meant to live with uncut genitals. This kind of body image, whatever its source, isn't very far off from cases reported under BIID. Correct me if I'm wrong — I'm not an anthropologist — but I've got the impression that anthropologists aren't concerned with classifying varieties of human behaviour as diseases. Though BIID is categorised as a disease, I can imagine that some might consider this a political categorisation. Given the wish to invent maximally neutral terminology, whatever patterns of human behaviour can, in principle, be wrapped in words replete of respect and understanding. Neander (disputatio) 14:09, 7 Martii 2013 (UTC)
Revertere ad "Mutilatio genitalium muliebrium".