Adulthood Rites and Female Genital Mutilation

Out of the three books that complete Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy, her second installment Adulthood Rites was my favorite for more reasons that I can count on my hands. But the main reason why I loved Adulthood Rites was because of Akin’s character. He was intelligent, brave, and loyal – all very admirable traits I wish more people I knew had.

When we are introduced to the twins, Amma and Shkaht, I automatically assume that they look like Davy Jones from The Pirates of the Carribean movies (but just a lot cuter and in little girl bodies) [to be fair, I imagine any character that has tentacles looking like this guy].

Anyway, when Neci is so adament about cutting off the girls sensory tentacles because of her desire to make them distinguishable as human girls instead of as the “aliens” that they are, I am reminded of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

FGM is pretty self explanatary, it is the mutilation of the female genitals, which usually means that the clitoris of a woman is surgically removed. There are three phases of FGM, but they will be discussed further in the video below.  Although FGM is predominantly common in African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries, it also occurs in Western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. But in developing countries with the lack of proper medical aid, most females are subjected to these painful surgeries at the hands of inexperienced civilians. This painful procedure is usually in order to keep women chaste, prevent them from experiencing sexual pleasures, making sex more pleasurable for men, and/or for distinguishing them as a part of a certain community.

Neci’s insistance on removing the tentacles of Amma and Shkaht reminded me of this despicable procedure because she is doing it to make them identifiable with the humans, regardless of the risk it poses to the girls. She is stripping them from their rights to their own bodies – dehumanizing them while attempting to humanize them. The girls could very well die if their tentacles were removed, but she would rather “torture little girls” than accept them for what they are. Similarly, the girls who are subjected to FGM rarely have a say in the procedure as it is a result of cultural and societal expectations and the consequences can be fatal.  Some die from FGM because they are suspectificable to infections and extreme blood loss as a result of lack of proper qualifications, surgical equipment and medicine.

Here are some facts about FGM that I think we should all be aware of. It is not a light subject and the content is disturbing, but this procedure is still revelant in our global society and we should educate ourselves about this fact instead of continuing to live in ignorance.

If Akin can stand his ground to Tate and implore her to protect the girls from mutilation, we could at least try to educate ourselves on the issues that endanger our fellow human beings. Like Khadija Gbla mentions in her Ted Talk attached below, FGM “is not black or white, it has no color, it is everybody’s problem.”

Please take the time out of your day to watch this 20 minute Ted Talk video about Khadija Gbla, “female empowerment,” and her experience with FGM.

Or, take a look at this fact sheet.

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