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"In Search Of My Clitoris"

Posted Jan 27 2009 7:16pm
is a one woman performance/educational comedy show I went to see on Saturday night. The artist is Sia Amma, a Liberian woman who was circumcised at the age of nine.

Some things that stay with me:

- Sia Amma speaks the language of four tribes. Not one of them has a word for the clitoris

- It wasn't until she moved here to the west that she understood what had happened to her. She was an adult, watching a show on National Geographic when the light came on and she ran into the bathroom to see if she could find her clitoris. It wasn't there.

- The wound never truly heals and often causes pain througout the woman's life. One time when she went to a western gynecologist, the doctor thought she had a rash.

-The ritual is deeply embedded into the culture and is part of a six month to yearlong ritual where the young women are circumcised by a woman. Her mother, sisters, grandmothers and Aunties are all there- it's violence perpetuated by women on women for men. (this was one of her main points- that this was not for her, it was for her future husband). After the mutilation (as she called it), the young women stay in this women only community to learn how to dance, sing, cook and take care of their future husbands and children.

-Efforts to outlaw female circumcision do nothing to prevent it. It merely goes underground. Girls are dying as a result of parents being afraid to take their infected or bleeding daugthers for medical assistance.

-Women who have been circumcised and come to live in the west often don't date. They are ashamed. It's easier to avoid relationship than dealing with how to tell the man about her body.

- Why do this? They believe that if they don't cut the clitoris off, it will grow into a penis. They believe it is dirty and will be constantly infected. They believe it will interfere with their man's pleasure in sex if not cut off. In fact, they believe that if the woman does not get her clit taken off, no man will marry her. The women who cut the clitori off the young women are revered, have high standing in their communities and believe in what they are doing. This practice is deeply engrained in the culture and will not go away soon.

- In fact it's affected Sia Amma's daughter, age 20. The daughter is not circumcised. Sia Amma's Auntie (who performs circumcisions in Africa), didn't speak to her for over a year because of her decision to not allow her daughter to be mutilated. This young woman, age 20 is deeply connected to her African ancestry. Because of that, she "doesn't feel whole" with an intact clitoris.

No...this is not going to go away soon.

There was much more, but I encourage anyone who has any interest in this topic to go to Global Women Intact. All monies raised, through the shows and donations, go to Sia Amman's foundation. She goes to Africa and literally knocks on doors to educate the young women about their choices. She wants them to at least understand what they are giving up when they have their clitoris cut off.

I thought this woman beyond brave both to talk about it here in the US, raising awareness. I find her tremendously brave in talking about sexuality in an open forum. I find her brave to admit to the world that which has brought her shame. I admire her because she goes back to her homeland and has dedicated her life to educating others so they have choice where she didn't.

It reminds me that it isn't always governments that change the world. It's the little efforts, person by person that truly bring about shifts.
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