Male circumcision is obviously practiced all over the world and is legal. Female circumcision is a little more controversial, and in the village that I am from, females were previously circumcised—but this circumcision is not as bad as the ones that are usually heard about. This one is just cutting of a small tip of the clitoris, similar to the foreskin in a male, and this happens after the birth of your first child—no matter the sex—and why this was made was because proper women are not supposed to make sounds when they pee. It is seen as a very unfitting thing to do, and women feel empowerment because they are circumcised and they are part of a childbearing society, so women who go through the majority of their lives without ever having a child actually get circumcised so they are not looked down upon because it is like a rite of passage—once you have your first child you have really become a woman, meaning you have been circumcised so it is a really big deal. But this practice doesn’t happen anymore.
It is interesting to me that she cites this tradition as not very controversial. When I think of female circumcision I think of mutilation. There is no reason why a female needs to go through the process of circumcision. It does not improve hygiene in any way; it only robs them of a source of sexual pleasure. Humans are special creatures in that sex is not just a means of reproduction but also a source of great pleasure that is a large and important part of life. To strip someone of this ability is to reduce them to an animalistic state in which bearing children is their only sexual purpose.
This tradition also speaks to the idea of womanhood and the process by which one achieves it. In this village, it seems that having children gives one that stamp of approval. Coco did say that the practice of female circumcision in her village no longer exists, but the emphasis on motherhood still remains—an emphasis that seems very outdated (at least in American society). Gone are the days in in which women are confined to a domestic prison—their only duty to rear children, tend to the hearth and home, and pamper the husband. Women are no longer getting married and having children at 18. They have been emancipated in a sense. However, the women in this African village seem to be stuck in that domesticity.