The Importance of Genital Mutilations to Gender Power Politics


Genital mutilation
Gender power politics

How to Cite

El-Salam, S. A. (1). The Importance of Genital Mutilations to Gender Power Politics. Al-Raida Journal, 33-43.


Male and female genital mutilations (known as circumcision) are known in some cultures as rites of passage and purificatoin (Kennedy 1970; Toubia 1993; Turner 1985). However, I argue that they have another less declared but very significant aspect: they are functions and tools of patriarchal gender power politics. This paper deals with both types of genital mutilations, male and female, though it gives more attention to Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) because it is a muted gender issue. It is based on a study that I carried out in 1999-2000. It is a qualitative field study on the attitudes of 23 Egyptian intellectuals towards MGM*. All of the respondents are active against female genital mutilatoin (FGM) but tolerant to MGM. I interviewd them on semi-structured one-one basis. One important result of this study is that MGM as practiced in Egypt today is based on gender power politics (Abd el Salam 2000). Following is an elaboratoin on this point through interpretatoin of some observed beliefs and practices related to MGM and FGM.


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