I think both sides of the debate have to listen to each other instead of digging their heels in. I think we do ourselves an injustice by not acknowledging the other side."
My Response: "Thanks for your comments. I think you're absolutely right that there needs to be open conversation about divergent experiences and that is what the magazine and the AWA-FC campaign are all about. I have been approached by several women who are opposed to the practice but commend both the magazine and the video for pointing out the hypocrisy that underlies current global anti-FGM discourses. And so your criticism is well taken. In the second part of my interview with Dennis Kabatto which is published in this maiden issue I directly discuss the question of FGM victims and their right to use that terminology in reference to themselves as well as the importance of their powerful voices that need to be heard by ardent supporters of the practice. At the same time the dominant and very oppressive discourse in western countries over the last forty years has been one about "mutilation" and generalizing this experience to all circumcised women. Most of us are quite pleased with our bodies and support this aspect of our culture. We also recognize that our genital aesthetics are being replicated in various so-called female genital cosmetic surgeries that are becoming popular in the west. The generalized use of the term FGM has created a lot of psychological damage in young immigrant girls and women who are bombarded with these demeaning and dehumanizing images on a daily basis. The campaign is largely directed at reminding these young women that they are beautiful and that use of the term FGM to define only African or Asian girls is racist. If in celebrating our beauty and cultural pride, we unintentionally diminished the experiences of women who feel mutilated, then we must be more sensitive in future campaigns. This is a beginning and we are bound to make mistakes and step on toes given the politicized nature of this issue. The spring issue of the magazine is specifically devoted to highlighting the legitimate claims and experiences of women who do feel victimized. Perhaps you could put me in touch with some of these women you refer to and I will be happy to talk with them and feature their stories. Several women who are part of AWA-FC are uncircumcised or circumcised but do not support the practice and we are working together to devise ways we can all move forward as African sisters in a spirit of healing and mutual respect. Thanks again"