Week 6 Blog Post

The issue with feminine beauty is that it hasn’t been a personal perspective for as long as history can remember. Feminine beauty has been determined by society and insecurity is present when women feel like they don’t meet the standards set by others. Feminine beauty practices such as Chinese foot binding, female genital cutting, and vaginal cosmetic surgery all have a long cultural history and deep societal implications. Taking the time to understand why people do these practices is important when trying to implement changes. What may be “wrong” in one culture may be essential for survival in another.

Foot binding has been part of Chinese culture for hundreds of years and has a strong cultural history. Much of the continuation of the practice is attributed to its relation to higher social status, which meant that the women didn’t have to do hard labor. There is also the aspect of obedience, since foot binding requires years of altering the shape of the foot and enduring the pain that is associated with it. Poorer families were not able to afford to bind their daughter’s feet because they needed to work in the fields. However, those who could afford it would go through with the practice because it could lead to marrying into a richer family. This practice is mainly connected to social status and being able to move up the social ladder. Nowadays the practice is not as popular since it is outlawed, but there are still places in China where people think it’ll lead to higher status. People have found other ways to show status such as with their cars, homes, clothing, and accessories.

Female genital cutting has been a global debate for many years. Americans have campaigned overseas to stop the practice, thinking it is the most barbaric thing to do to a girl. However, the readings from this week showed how deeply rooted the practice is in many cultures and that there are many social implications if it is not done. Female genital mutilation is used in cultures as a rite of passage from girl to woman, sometimes to control sexual pleasure, and many times determines if they can be married. The practice is connected to having the ability to marry and fulfilling the image society has of women. If this practice was to be completely outlawed, many people would still do it in secret. This could create more complications because the hidden places may not have the right medical and sterile equipment that is needed to prevent infection. Lynda Newman had an interpretive theoretical perspective in her article about female genital cutting and exhibited how she learned about the different culture and how important the practice is in their society.

It is extraordinary how there are so many different types of cosmetic surgery, now nearly every part of the body can be changed. Though the most popular cosmetic surgeries are on the face, some of the surgeries that can be done is on the vagina. It was so interesting that people had thought so much about changing such a personal part of they body, but I realized they all had deep cultural reasons. The first type of vaginal surgery the documentary introduced was labiaplasty female genital cosmetic surgery, where the skin of the labia is cut off. The women who would do this surgery would be dissatisfied with the amount of skin, and many were made fun of by siblings or sexual partners. An issue with sexual education is that girls are shown a diagram to learn about their vagina, but they are not taught how to have body confidence or love their body as it is. The documentary also shared the story of Muslim women who wanted their hymen reconstructed to save the reputation of their families. For them it would feel better to die than go through the agony of shame they will experience from their community. If this practice were to be outlawed suddenly, there wouldn’t be much change and people would find more dangerous ways to change the way they look. The solution to the issue is to affirm every woman that she is perfectly made and create a culture that uplifts women. Heather Leach had an epidemiological theoretical perspective in the documentary because she was focusing on how to rid of the issue of vaginal surgery for cosmetic reasons.

Serena Williams Extra Credit

During the birth of her first child, Serena Williams experienced great complications. Most of it due to medical professionals not taking her concerns seriously and denying her knowledge of her own health. The factors of intersectionality that contributed to this situation were that Williams was a pregnant black woman who was seeking care in a hospital in America. African-Americans have had a long history of racism in America, and the medical system is not exempt from that. Blacks often receive less care and respect in hospitals, especially pregnant black women as the article stated. Though the system has improved, women still receive less attention in the medical system. Hospitals in America are especially racist against African-Americans, and this was the context where Williams had to give birth. Overall, this situation paints a clear picture of the racism that exists in biomedicine. Society views black women to be uneducated and unimportant. Therefore, their concerns are not heard, even when they are a star athlete known across America. It is sad to say, but Williams was one of the lucky ones. She has a high social status and eventually her cry for medical attention was heard. This situation would have turned out very differently for a lower-class black woman. It is possible that their concerns would not be heard at all, being dismissed by doctors as not knowing enough. The probability that a lower-class black woman would have died is much higher than for a white woman. Statistically, a white woman in the same situation would have received the upmost care and attention to detail once their concerns were voiced. The author suggests that the solution to this issue is for medical professionals to listen. If people are not even acknowledging the issue, how can it be fixed? The stories of the people must be heard and there must be a movement towards equal healthcare for all.

One thought on “Week 6 Blog Post

  1. Hi Hannah,

    I found your first sentence so interesting and so true. Feminine beauty has not been a personal perspective, it has been a societal perspective. Do you think the same could be said about masculine beauty/attractiveness? I completely agree that footbinding was mainly connected to social status for the majority of the time that it was practiced. It is also mentioned in lecture that when the Mongols invaded China in 1279 that it was also linked to women in China expressing themselves and aligning themselves with their Chinese identity. I would like to add that the practice was only successfully outlawed because of all the other societal and cultural changes that were taking place, such as the removal of the social rankings because of a communist government. I agree wholeheartedly with the statements you made about female genital cutting. I also completely agree with one of you last sentences that we should be trying to create cultures that uplift women. I’m curious however to know what you think would occur is the practice of cosmetic surgery was completely outlawed. Do you think people would still get it done illegally or do you think that it would be one step close to a society that uplifts women for their natural beauty? I found your blog post very interesting and I really enjoyed all the points you brought up. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

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