I found out that this week’s topic is quite interesting. Culture impacts people in many ways including the feminine beauty. When talking about feminine beauty, it is hard to define since the definition would varies depends on personal point of view and it is very subjective. Some people view feminine beauty from external view such as make up or body shape. While, there are also some people view feminine beauty from inside such as kindness. Not to forget, the cultural practice defines feminine beauty too through their rite of passages such as discussed in this week’s topic: Chinese foot binding, female genital cutting, and plastic surgery. From the website Collegiate Times, the feminine beauty defines as “a socially constructed opinion that one of a woman’s most important assets is attractiveness and is something all women should strive to achieve and maintain. In other words, women should try to obtain these ideals in order to be considered beautiful by society’s standards” (Gleysteen 2018). From my opinion, I would like to be as the same mind as the author thinking about the definition of feminine beauty since I believe every woman out there would try to reach the standard made by one’s culture or society and attempt to impress people in their surroundings. However, some women might not try to be in the same shoes.
Jumping into the female genital cutting, I learnt that as a Muslim, a woman has already undergone this method since she was a baby while for a man, he will undergo the male genital cutting after seven days of birth or before he reaches puberty (in Islam, it is called as ‘baligh’). Based on my reading regarding the genital cutting for Muslim, it is called ‘khatan’ and in Islam, it known as ‘tahara’ which mean purification (BBC 2013) or like mentioned in the lecture video, it also can be as a rite of passage for a man or a woman. The author of the article “Female circumcision: Muslim identities and zero tolerance policies in rural West Java”, Lynda Newland also feels that the female genital cutting acts as a passage for a girl to become a woman (Newland 2006). The main reason given for the ritual is cleanliness. Muslims believe the removal of the foreskin makes it easier to keep penis clean because urine cannot get trapped there (BBC 2013).
Next, the foot binding in China. I believe that when reading about this fact, everyone must be shocked and could feel the pain. Nevertheless, like genital cutting, the foot binding practice must have its own reason why it had been created. The author of the book “Snow Flower and the Fan” mentioned, she believes that foot binding further improves cultural practice and makes women to be accepted into the society (See n.d.). Like in the reading, foot binding “holds men’s fascination during private and intimate moments between a man and a woman” (See n.d.) but there is also other opinion, Laurel Bossen, co-author of a book “Bound Feet, Young Hands” shared, “girls who had their feet bound did not lead a life of idle beauty but rather served a crucial economic purpose…” (Hunt 2017). They found that foot binding endured longest in areas where it still made economic sense to produce goods like cloth at home and began to decline only when cheaper factory-made alternatives became available in these regions (Hunt 2017).
All these matters go the same as plastic surgery. It makes someone feels comfortable with his or her new skin with own reasons. Some people are getting plastic surgery in order to change what they already have and to improve some of their body parts to better one. Whereas some people are getting the plastic surgery in order to repair what they loss or get an incomplete part especially when someone involves in an accident or may be born different from everyone else in some parts. Despite of the genital plastic surgery, other type of plastic surgeries is also prominent among people especially in Korea. For some teenagers, getting a plastic surgery is consider as a rite of passage for them when entering adulthood. Most of Korean teenagers’ parents give their children any plastic surgery as a present when they reaching 18 years old or also any years they want to. We, as an outsider, cannot judge someone who change themselves to become pretty through plastic surgery since that is how they survive through their culture or society’s way of life and being accepted. If all these practices being forbidden by law, it might hard for Muslims to get the cleanliness that they wanted, no economic changes and attractiveness in Chinese women, and someone might difficult to live in society’s standard.
BBC. (2013). Circumcision of Boys. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islamethics/malecircumcision.shtml
Gleysteen, Mackenzie. (2018). The power of pretty: Feminine beauty ideals hold importance in personal professional pursuits. Collegiate Times. Retrieved from http://www.collegiatetimes.com/opinion/the-power-of-pretty-feminine-beauty-ideals-hold-importance-in/article_736816d4-222d-11e8-88a8-6f4bfd68487e.html
Hunt, Katie. (2017). Work, Not Sex? The real reason Chinese women bound their feet. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/21/health/china-foot-binding-new-theory/index.html
Newland, Lynda. (2006). Female Circumcision: Muslim identities and zero tolerance policies in rural West Java. Women’s Studies International Forum. Retrieved from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/6.2-Newland.pdf
See, Lisa. (n.d.) Footbinding. Retrieved from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/6.1-See.pdf