Subjugation of Women

Topics: Female genital cutting, Foot binding, Vulva Pages: 5 (1819 words) Published: November 3, 2010
Gerard Aquino
Dr. Dwight Delano Dorman
English Composition 101 015
October 19 2010
The Subjugation of Women
Men have subjugated women by controlling their sexual impulses, requiring painful rites of passage into womanhood, using them as sex objects, and depriving them of independent wealth and status. Throughout recorded history, men have forced women to endure horrific tortures in an attempt to create the perfect woman, and to keep them compliant. In some African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures, men can kill their wives or daughters without impunity from the law. In these cultures, honor is more valuable than the lives of their women. In some cases, men have convinced the women that these horrific tortures are for their own best interest. Two extreme ways of subjugating women are Female Genital Mutilation, and Foot binding.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the process of removing all or part of the external female genitalia; this practice started in Africa 2000 years ago. FGM pre dates Islam; the operation is usually performed on young girls from four to eight years old; some are done right after birth, and others up until their first pregnancy. There are three variations of FGM; the first is Sunna Circumcision. Sunna in Arabic means “tradition.” Sunna Circumcision consists of the removal of the prepuce, (the tip of the clitoris.) The second variation is a Clitoridectomy; this is the removal of the entire clitoris and adjacent labia. The third and extreme variation is Infibulation, (pharonic circumcision). Infibulation is a clitoridectomy, followed by the young girls’ wounds stitched together with catgut and her legs bound together for forty days. In Sudan and Somalia, they use acacia thorns to hold the two sides of the bleeding vulva together. The young girl is immobile until the wound of the vulva closes, except for a small opening created by inserting a splinter of wood. This opening is for the passage of urine and menstrual discharge. Historic documents record this procedure performed in ancient Egypt during the rule of the Pharaohs (Pharonic). In Africa, 85% of FGM is clitoridectomy; 15% is infibulations ( In most cases, the young girls do not have the benefit of medically trained personnel, medical facilities, proper surgical tools, sterilization, and anesthesia due to extreme poverty. The elder women of the village restrain the young girl on the ground in order to perform this operation. The instruments used by the “midwives” range from broken glass, a tin lid, razor blades, knives, scissors, or any available sharp object. In reality, the midwife excises whatever she can get a hold of while the child struggles to be free. Some of the results of this procedure include serious infection, HIV, abscesses, tumors, hemorrhages, shock, clitoral cysts, and death.

An estimated 135 million women have undergone FGM, and another two million are at risk each year. Twenty-eight countries in Africa, as well as the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Australia, and North America practice FGM (; this is due to the increased mobility of African and Middle Eastern immigrants. “At present, infibulation is practiced mostly by Muslims, according to all available sources, because of the importance and value they attach to virginity,” ( To engage in sexual intercourse, some infibulated women have to be cut open; more cuts may be required when a child wife delivers a baby.

Foot binding is a tradition that started in China over one thousand years ago. Legend states that foot binding started in the Shang Dynasty (1700 BC – 1027 BC). A Shang Empress who had a clubfoot ordered the women in her court to bind their feet to transform her deformity into a standard of beauty, ( However, historic documents show that the tradition of foot binding started in the Song Dynasty (960 AD – 1276 AD) with the Emperor Li Yu...
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