A Listening Guide Analysis of Bisi’s Story of Living with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Ajayi, Chinyere Elsie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8098-5676 and Ajayi, Sunday (2023) A Listening Guide Analysis of Bisi’s Story of Living with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Journal of International Women's Studies, 25 (7).

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Official URL: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol25/iss7/3/


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is recognized worldwide as a fundamental violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects a deep-rooted inequality between men and women and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Studies have examined the short and long-term impacts of FGM, including the impact on the sexual functioning of women. The aim of this article was to gain an in-depth insight into one woman’s experiences of living with FGM. The analysis presented in this article is grounded in the voice-centred relational or the listening guide (LG) method of in-depth narrative data analysis developed by Gilligan and colleagues, and the feminist theory which places gender and power at the center of its explanatory framework. The LG is an analytical framework that allows for the systematic consideration of the many voices embedded in a person’s story. The identification of different ‘voices’ revealed contradictions in Bisi’s ‘voices’, which could imply an on-going emotional and psychological distress resulting from undergoing FGM. Bisi’s narrative is a testimony of how a harmful cultural practice like FGM can underlie unequal power relations that relegate women to inferior and subordinate positions in intimate relationships. She struggled with maintaining intimate relationships because of the impact of FGM on her enjoyment of sex, thus, she experienced rejections and consequent breakdown of intimate relationships. For Bisi, it could be that the practice of FGM which is perceived to enable her to achieve complete womanhood, denied her of that culturally normative ideals of womanhood, which is relationship and family. This insight although requires further consideration in research studies, could contribute to campaign strategies geared towards combating the practice of FGM. Also, analysis shows that her experiences of rejection may have influenced the physical and mental health difficulties she developed, a finding that could inform professional intervention, and may impress on research studies to examine the nuances that may influence mental health and other physical health issues for women who have undergone FGM. Findings further highlight the need for more proactive efforts targeted at supporting the well-being of girls and women who have undergone this practice.

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