Female genital mutilation (FGM) is recognized worldwide as a fundamental violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects a deep-rooted inequality between men and women and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Studies have examined the short and long-term impacts of FGM, including the impact on the sexual functioning of women. The aim of this article was to gain an in-depth insight into one woman’s experiences of living with FGM. The analysis presented in this article is grounded in the voice-centered relational or “listening guide” (LG) method of in-depth narrative data analysis developed by Gilligan and colleagues (2003), and feminist theory which places gender and power at the center of its explanatory framework. The LG is an analytical framework that allows for the systematic consideration of the many different voices embedded in a person’s story. The identification of different voices revealed contradictions in Bisi’s voices, which could imply on-going emotional and psychological distress resulting from undergoing FGM. Bisi’s narrative is a testimony of how a harmful cultural practice like FGM can promulgate unequal power relations that relegate women to inferior and subordinate positions in intimate relationships. Bisi struggled with maintaining intimate relationships because of the impact of FGM on her enjoyment of sex; thus, she experienced rejections and a consequent breakdown of intimate relationships. For Bisi, it could be that the practice of FGM, which is perceived to enable her to achieve complete womanhood, denied her of those culturally normative ideals of womanhood, which are relationship and family. This insight requires further consideration in research studies that could eventually contribute to public campaigns geared towards combating the practice of FGM. Also, analysis shows that her experiences of rejection may have influenced her physical and mental health difficulties. Such a finding could inform professional intervention and may inspire researchers to examine in more depth the negative health outcomes for survivors of FGM. Findings further highlight the need for more proactive efforts targeted at supporting the well-being of girls and women who have undergone this practice.
Ajayi, Chinyere Elsie and Ajayi, Sunday
"A Listening Guide Analysis of Bisi’s Story of Living with Female Genital Mutilation,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 25:
7, Article 3.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol25/iss7/3