Received via NetGalley from the University of Rochester Press in exchange for an honest and completely unbiased review.
Female Circumcision provokes imagery in many of women and children from far off countries who are abused and forced into situations we find offensive to our feminist principles. Clitoridectomy sounds like something from a horror movie starring the female genitalia. Unfortunately, as this book shows its readers, this is not the case for female circumcision. The act of circumcision of females and clitoridectomy has a long history in the United States that spans from female sexual oppression, perceived cure of ailments that are caused by irritation of the clitoris and even finally the desire women have to obtain the perfect
body no matter the cost (even genital perfection).
Rodriguez writes a largely academic publication of the history of the female genital surgeries over centuries in an attempt to highlight that the practices in the United States are embedded in the historical practices of its people and was not an abnormality as previously believed. Rodriguez states: "without the historical context, the search for difference is superficial and thus meaningless. The question, then, should not be what are the differences, but rather, as I have explored in this book, how are they apart of America's own cultural and medical history?"
The sometimes dry narrative highlights not only the role of clioridectomy throughout history, but also accidentally illuminates the changing social acceptance of the female orgasm types, female roles in society and the evolution of modern day depiction of love as a partnership filled with respect and mutual reception of sexual pleasure.
This book is a lovely read for anyone interested in the change in social understanding of the female body, sexuality and male/female relationships. Although not entirely feminist this book could be useful for many students of feminist thought in terms of changing ideals of female roles in the sexual relationship. The author states, the only complete book on female circumcision and it is entirely believable with even the most obscure information presented along side the most mundane. A book largely written for the academic audience and not the lay person; this isn't something picked up for a light and fun read, but worth the effort as it is a treasure trove of well researched information.
Rodriguez Americanizes the far off and exotic with historical information which proves our own cultural behaviors can be just as strange and "savage". We are not so different.