Taking Sides Discussion

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Taking Sides Discussion Points Assignment: Issue #18 Should Female Circumcision be Banned? Summary: The main issue being discussed in the Taking Sides article is that of whether or not it would be right for anthropologists to work to eliminate the practice of female circumcision. This culturally debatable topic was discussed by professor of the history and philosophy of science Merrilee H. Salmon and Professor of anthropology Elliot P. Skinner; Both taking on very different sides in their discussion on the topic. Salmon argues that Anthropologists should work to eliminate such practice due to her argument that “…clitoridectomy (female genital mutilation) violates the rights of the women on whom it is performed.” Also, Professor Salmon brings up the possibility that genital mutilation could very well be a way for males to control women within their society and promote the practice of inequality. On the contrary, Professor Skinner believes that such cultural practices should not be eliminated and “…accuses feminists who want to abolish clitoridectomy of being ethnocentric.” Professor Skinner attempts to cover the cultural aspect of this issue, implying that African women themselves volunteer to perform clitoridectomy and decodes the cultural meaning behind such practice. Such cultural meaning is that of male initiation (later on in marriage) and the transformation of girls into adulthood. Textbook Concept: An example from the book that most closely could relate to this TS article begins on page 313 with the constructing religious justifications for violence; this section gives examples of massacres and wars being justified by religion, as in Professor Skinner’s argument which implies that these practices are to be culturally justified. Ethnographic Example: The article gives a very clear explanation that in some African culture (Kenya, Kikuyu Tribe) “no proper kikuyu would dream of marrying a girl who has not been circumcised” (Kenyatta 1938). And although the...
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