Thursday, January 20, 2011

Female Vs Male Circumcision:The Role of Agency,Structure and Meaning

In this reflection, I argue that to achieve equitable health care, it is necessary to listen to all the agencies within a population. I use agency in this context to mean the different perspectives about a health issue within a population. Using Darby & Svoboda’s (2007) argument about the framing of male and female circumcision as a basis for my argument, I argue that presenting only a particular line of argument may inhibit equitable health care services in that it may lead to the formulation of policies that may not be representative. In addition, I argue that the presentation of a particular agency as seen in the Nigerian context with respect to circumcision symbolizes the role of structure in shaping policy decisions. By structure, I mean the social system that allocates resources within the society. I begin by looking at circumcision in the Nigerian context. Following this, I invoke the author’s findings to show how the framing of female circumcision symbolizes a hegemonic structure.
Darby & Svoboda’s (2007) critical examination of the framing of the two forms of circumcision, the male and the female strikes me as interesting because of the prominence the issue occupies in Nigeria. Many Non Governmental Organizations have become advocates of the eradication of female circumcision often described as female genital mutilation (FGM). Consequently, several efforts are geared towards eradicating the procedure. The central argument is that FGM decreases the erotic sensation of the women; therefore it is described as injustice to the women. Policies to support the eradication of FGM are being crafted in different states. Interestingly, no attention is paid to the circumcision of the men (MGA).
But in their study, Darby & Svoboda (2007) make startling revelation about the similarity between both procedures (FGM & MGA). By juxtaposing FGM and MGA, the authors argue that both procedures are similar in that they entail the removal of sexual erotic parts of the body. Additionally, the authors flaw the notion that FGM decreases sexual pleasure of the women. Quoting a Nigerian study, the authors state: “Okonofua and colleague in 2002 examined 1836 Nigerian women who had been subjected to either FGA type 1(71 percent) or type 2 (24 percent). They found no significant differences between cut and uncut women in their frequency of reported intercourse in the preceding week, or month, the frequency of reports of early arousal during intercourse. There was also no difference between cut and uncut women in their reported ages of menarche, first intercourse” (Darby & Svoboda, 2007, p.310). This revelation considerably weakens the arguments by advocates who describe FGM as injustice. Based on the above quotation, it is also reasonable to conclude that the argument that FGM is injustice to the women is unfounded.
Darby & Svoboda’s (2007) interrogation of the privileging of female circumcision over male circumcision is thought provoking. From a Critical Cultural lens, it raises a fundamental question about social structure. It also raises an epistemic question. For instance, how did female circumcision get to be framed as injustice against women? Or better still, whose agency does this point of view represent. Is it representative of all the agencies? At the same time, it gives us interesting clue about how policies are made.
My intent here is not to sound as a male chauvinist, nor to dismiss FGM as trivial, but from a Critical Cultural lens to illustrate how a particular structure or agency could influence public values and consequently lead to the articulation of policies. For example, the sea of interventions geared towards eradicating FGM emerge from the values that have been attached to FGM due to the framing of female circumcision as injustice. The question is that if the both procedures are similar as illustrated by the authors in their argument, why female circumcision should be privileged over male circumcision, food for thought.

2 comments:

Stefan van Westing said...

Saying that having foreskin increases the risk of contracting STD's or Cancer, or any of those other bogus claims all stem back from a single demonstrably fallacious 'study' done in some African society's in a research effort to investigate HIV back in the 70's when it was rising.

The test group of men in this study were severely impoverished Africans who lived in highly unhygienic and unsanitary conditions with open sewers, and fecal matter all over the place in and around houses.

The same test group of men also had no access to any condoms or any other form of protection against STD's

The same test group of men also were uncircumcised, and hence, the completely insane conclusion was drawn that the reason those men had such high rated of Urinary Tract Infections and STD's was because they had foreskin...

Ignore the fact they live highly impoverished, lack any protection from STD's and lived in highly unsanitary conditions ..... Noooooo ... the reason is off course because they had foreskins.

The so called "medical reasons" is nothing more than the endless regurgitation of that same fallacious and demonstrably false study.

The cancer claim is another pathetic guise under which the mutilation and maiming of boys is passed under, anyone who has even the most basic and mild understanding of Cancer would instantly notice the oxymoron of claiming circumcision increases the risks of cancer.

Let me break it down for you ... cancer, is nothing more than one's OWN BIOLOGICAL TISSUE that has sustained damage to it's DNA structure, ... IF this cell is still able to split and multiply regardless of the DNA damage, this piece of damaged tissue will eventually grow into a tumor.

That is what cancer is, and the number of ways that damage could be done to the DNA structure of a cell is theoretically endless.

The reason why cancer can strike someone like lightning from a clear blue sky is because cancer could arise from a mutation that occurred during the making of any new body cell.

Any and all cells in any human's body could at any and all times sustain damage to it's DNA structure.

Other ways of damaging DNA structure of cells is by inflicting bodily harm (which circumcision evidently does) by either cutting bruising or burning or other methods of inflicting damage such as chemical burn/erosion

If anything, being circumcised only provides a window of opportunity for cancer to strike, it in fact invited cancer for the time it takes to heal the wounds of circumcision.

In Europe the vast majority of men are intact, we also have the highest hygienic standards in the world, and for obvious reasons we ARE NOT plagued with STD's, nor cancer, nor urinary tract infections or anything alike, being intact myself i have never experienced the slightest inconvenience with my foreskin, i just wash regularly with water, and it's always clean, never had any infections of any sort to my genitals.


These are demonstrably lies that end up taking away the male equivalent of the clitoris (the foreskin has a ribbed band that has pockets of extremely densely compacted erogenous nerve endings that upon touching gives me unparalleled pleasure) and reduced the man's physical ability to experience sexual stimulation by a whopping 70% on average.

Men with comparative experience described the loss of sexual stimulation after their circumcision with losing color from your eyesight, or touching something with padded gloves, that's how profound the losses are.

All of that lulled with demonstrably false "study's" like the one you just regurgitated.

The entire practice of circumcision for both men and women has been devised to achieve the same goal ... namely to make if physically impossible for a person to experience erotic sensations the same way that cutting out both eyes would render you physically unable to perceive light.

The Male foreskin is the exact equivalent of the females' clitoris.

So how is there any "difference" at all ?

Stefan van Westing said...

Saying that having foreskin increases the risk of contracting STD's or Cancer, or any of those other bogus claims all stem back from a single demonstrably fallacious 'study' done in some African society's in a research effort to investigate HIV back in the 70's when it was rising.

The test group of men in this study were severely impoverished Africans who lived in highly unhygienic and unsanitary conditions with open sewers, and fecal matter all over the place in and around houses.

The same test group of men also had no access to any condoms or any other form of protection against STD's

The same test group of men also were uncircumcised, and hence, the completely insane conclusion was drawn that the reason those men had such high rated of Urinary Tract Infections and STD's was because they had foreskin...

Ignore the fact they live highly impoverished, lack any protection from STD's and lived in highly unsanitary conditions ..... Noooooo ... the reason is off course because they had foreskins.

The so called "medical reasons" is nothing more than the endless regurgitation of that same fallacious and demonstrably false study.

The cancer claim is another pathetic guise under which the mutilation and maiming of boys is passed under, anyone who has even the most basic and mild understanding of Cancer would instantly notice the oxymoron of claiming circumcision increases the risks of cancer.

Let me break it down for you ... cancer, is nothing more than one's OWN BIOLOGICAL TISSUE that has sustained damage to it's DNA structure, ... IF this cell is still able to split and multiply regardless of the DNA damage, this piece of damaged tissue will eventually grow into a tumor.

That is what cancer is, and the number of ways that damage could be done to the DNA structure of a cell is theoretically endless.

The reason why cancer can strike someone like lightning from a clear blue sky is because cancer could arise from a mutation that occurred during the making of any new body cell.

Any and all cells in any human's body could at any and all times sustain damage to it's DNA structure.

Other ways of damaging DNA structure of cells is by inflicting bodily harm (which circumcision evidently does) by either cutting bruising or burning or other methods of inflicting damage such as chemical burn/erosion

If anything, being circumcised only provides a window of opportunity for cancer to strike, it in fact invited cancer for the time it takes to heal the wounds of circumcision.

In Europe the vast majority of men are intact, we also have the highest hygienic standards in the world, and for obvious reasons we ARE NOT plagued with STD's, nor cancer, nor urinary tract infections or anything alike, being intact myself i have never experienced the slightest inconvenience with my foreskin, i just wash regularly with water, and it's always clean, never had any infections of any sort to my genitals.


These are demonstrably lies that end up taking away the male equivalent of the clitoris (the foreskin has a ribbed band that has pockets of extremely densely compacted erogenous nerve endings that upon touching gives me unparalleled pleasure) and reduced the man's physical ability to experience sexual stimulation by a whopping 70% on average.

Men with comparative experience described the loss of sexual stimulation after their circumcision with losing color from your eyesight, or touching something with padded gloves, that's how profound the losses are.

All of that lulled with demonstrably false "study's" like the one you just regurgitated.

The entire practice of circumcision for both men and women has been devised to achieve the same goal ... namely to make if physically impossible for a person to experience erotic sensations the same way that cutting out both eyes would render you physically unable to perceive light.

The Male foreskin is the exact equivalent of the females' clitoris.

So how is there any "difference" at all ?