The American Fight for a Global Issue

The American Fight for a Global Issue ​

As a feminist living in the United States, it’s easy to see that problems such as the wage gap and defunding of Planned Parenthood seem to be at the top of the fourth-wave feminist agenda. Despite the importance of our domestic issues, however, I urge my fellow feminists to occasionally check our privilege.  It needs to be recognized that women in other countries face dangers we may not even know exist. One of the most serious issues is female genital mutilation.

More than 200 million women in 30 countries are currently living with some form of genital mutilation. There are 3 major types: clitoridectomy, excision, and infibulation, listed in order of increasing danger. A clitoridectomy consists of partial or full removal of the clitoral hood and/or the clitoris. An excision is the complete removal of the clitoris and labia minora. Infibulation entails removal of the clitoris and labia minor and then the labia majora are stitched together leaving only a small hole for waste excretion.

Unlike male circumcision, these procedures provide no medical benefit. On the contrary, they actually involve serious consequences. Some of these include severe bleeding, urination problems, infertility, PTSD, and birthing complications, increasing risk of death for both the mother and child. These procedures are normally carried out on young girls between the ages of five and fifteen, so the memories often cause psychological issues. This practice is rooted in sexism and aims to oppress women, based on the patriarchal societies in the countries where this is happening. Leading motivations for these surgeries include: guaranteeing  a preserved virginity for a girl’s future husband, reducing a woman’s libido, and removing the perceived “dirty” parts of the female body.

            Knowing these terrifying things and living in a country where we have the power to push progress puts American feminists in a unique position. We must make this issue a priority. We must fight for the basic human rights of our fellow women across the globe. Our country has always been the first to intervene in situations of oppression and injustice. It is alarming that in regards to such a widespread health and freedom concern, our government officials remain quiet. We have to look to ourselves to incite change. It is our duty as women, and advocates of freedom for all, to push it to the top of our foreign agenda.

            How can we do that? Talk about it with anyone who will listen. By talking with your mother, sister, father, friends, teachers and coworkers, you can start a long chain of people who now know, and who will then talk to their friends and family. As women, we know that education is our most powerful weapon. Increased awareness will come with an increased drive to act. Start the conversation on your campus by getting in touch with student run organizations and holding awareness and fundraising events. Feminism does not only apply to the issues that exist within our borders. It’s time for the movement to start changing the world.