Week 6 Blog Post

Chinese foot-binding is an ancient process that continued for thousands if years. From its origins it was seen as a pleasing erotic practice that pleased men, wealthy men. Women took up this symbol of elite status to appear favorable to men. Foot-binding is also connected to religion like Confucianism and meant obedience to elders, and future husbands. Young girls were judged based on their feet. Without that status symbol, women were only laborers in the fields and unit to be a wife. If theses practices were outlawed abruptly, the culture around foot-binding wouldn’t change. It takes more than a change in laws to eradicate a cultural practice..

Female genitailia cutting is conned to faith but hasn’t always been that way. It functions as a way to stay clean and beautiful in non-western cultures. If women dont undergo this surgery they fail to complete their rite of passage in some cultures. If a law suddenly make this practice illegal it would make women be shamed and not be accepted, and most likely not get chosen to marry. There might be a few men who dont mind it but because its such  strong cultural norm, people may would still decide to circumcise. Women express it being a blessing and a way to not cheat on their husbands ( Ahmadu) FCG is something alot of westerners dont understand and they pass judgement by saying circumcision causes loss of feeling or sexual dysfunction  when thats not necessarily he case.  In Ahmadu’s paper, she’s pointing out the assumptions made by western scientific knowledge and analyzing the effects of that information on women who went through FGC; she’s therefore using the Critical Medical Anthropologist Theory to support her claims and so is Lynda Newland’s paper about the Muslim community.


In America, plastic surgeries can be perceived harmful as well if the tables were turned. People internalize cultural norms and don’t realize the contradictions in judging other cultures. Women also undergo life threatening surges to fit in and be considered beautiful in the eyes of society. People may have an eating disorder, a facelift, liposuctions, butt lifts to be “attractive”. Western parents also try to to improves their children lives by making decisions for them when it comes to curing/alleviating the symptoms of disease and male circumcision. Women from  “The Perfect Vagina” fit is a prime example of wanting to feel normal without knowing what the opposite sex actually thinks . Going through painful surgery offers more benefits to life and outweigh the risks. The filmmaker of the documentary noticed the double standards when it came to vaginal cutting in the UK and vicinity. A few men preferred their women to look clean and pretty and women are suffering emotionally and physically because of it; she was using the Feminist Theory  approach. Chinese foot-binding can be comparable too. Those young girl endure pain and infections for three years until their feet were the perfect shape. One in ten girls die from that practice.

IF plastic surgeries is the Western world were outlawed, there would have to be a huge outcry for change by the culture itself. Laws are just cultural norms that are agreed upon and written. For example, when the Civil Rights moment happened it was a response to the culture at that time and how African Americans challenged racist culture of the times and then laws were changed. Women’s rights, LGBTQ rights are all examples of our ever changing culture. Laws are cultural norms. And in order for plastic and cosmetic surgery to be outlawed, peoples ideals and beliefs have to change. The issue with laws being above culture will result in people getting criminalized for their practice thats been legal for years before.

Serena Williams Extra Credit

What are the factors that contributed to this situation when viewed at through a lens of intersectionality?

Serena is a woman, and she is black. There were many strikes against her for being a woman in the first place. Women once upon a time had very little rights, and from that discrimination created expectations and stereotypes of women. They are silenced, kept in the home, emotional, dramatic. All of these things are attached to a black woman. Being black means facing the implicit and explicit biases everyday, encountering micro aggressions and having to work ten times as hard  to be economically stable we won’t be able to win until there is major systematic change. All of things tings contribute to Serena Williams situation, she’s successful but she is also a black woman.

What does this say about how our society in general and many people in biomedicine view black women

It says that no one really cares enough to treat black women with the proper care. Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die a maternal death according to the article

Where does class come into play and how might this have turned out differently for a lower class black woman or a white woman?

It barely comes into play because they see a black woman first. Lower class black women are expected to be less educated so in cases like low income black communities, the physician would not listen to the women’s concerns at all. A white woman is treated with a little more respect since from a status standpoint they are next to the white man. I feel as though the disproportional maternal mortality rates are due to white doctors thinking blacks are useless and are disposable.

What does the author suggest is a solution to this deeply embedded racist problem in our country’s medical system?

For doctors to recognize and correct their biases. They need to learn from their patients, and be aware of the embedded racism in the medical system. They need to use their privilege to uplift black voices

One thought on “Week 6 Blog Post

  1. I think if genital plastic surgeries got outlawed women would still get these procedures in private or closed-door settings similar to illegal abortions in the time before Roe v. Wade. Before 1973 there were an estimated 1.2 million illegal and unsafe abortions causing nearly 5,000 annual deaths (Joffe 1995). My greatest concern is that women would be so desperate for these procedures that they would put their lives at risk for illegal operations. The idea of being “beautiful” and “perfect” is so deeply embedded in the Western culture that it would be hard for women to know that they once had the option to have a cosmetic procedure and are now stripped of it. And in the end, who would benefit from outlawing these surgeries? If they are elective and un-forced, who has the right to tell someone else they can’t get the surgery? As described in lecture, our external self is so connected to our internal self that everything affects our wellbeing. If women are unable to be happy with their external self and are unable to have a legal way to fix it, we will face even larger problems of mental health issues and botched procedures.

    Carole Joffe. Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade. 60. (1995)

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