Representation of the “Other” - Discourse of female circumcision in the Journal for Midwives

University essay from Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för kultur och samhälle (KS)

Abstract: This thesis studied the representation of female circumcision by analysing 32 articles published during the 21st century in The Journal for Midwives, the union journal of the Federation of Finnish Midwives. With critical discourse analysis, through post-colonial feminist theory, the thesis researched the ways the journal is contributing to the creation of readers’ bias regarding circumcised women and their sexuality.The articles focused on multicultural healthcare, prevention of female circumcision and the most serious health detriments the practice might have. Human rights, criminal law, andgender equality were the main reasons behind the aversion of the practice. Women from the practicing communities were represented as victims of patriarchy, clueless of their position and unable to decide for themselves. Sexuality of circumcised women was widely excluded, only described through possible negative health consequences. Anthropological approach to sexuality and the role of migration was excluded and discussions about complex ethical questions, racialisation, power relations and bias of healthcare professionals were absent. Female circumcision and the practicing communities were categorised and judged based on Western understanding of sexuality and gender equality.Based on the analysis, the thesis recommends more diversity to the production of texts and to the perspectives of articles. Minorities should be included more in the production of the representation of their health issues and wider socio-cultural explanations behind the practice should be presented. Discussions about health inequalities based on ethnicity and reflections about cultural hegemony of West in relation to sexuality are also recommended subjects to be included in the journal. Most importantly, stereotypical representations of broken womanhood and positioning circumcised women as oppressed victims who need to be rescued by outsiders, should be forgotten. Instead, individual care of women and the importance of personal experiences and meanings of circumcision and sexuality should be highlighted.

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