Monday, October 26, 2009
Possessing the Secret of Joy
I read Possessing the Secret of Joy, by Alice Walker, this weekend. I couldn't put it down. I was supposed to be writing a comparison paper on Italian poetry from the Renaissance. Instead I was reading a fictional account of a woman's struggle to cope with the emotional impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) or as some cultures call it "female circumcision." (FYI: I find the latter description to be too clinical to describe the ritualistic process of desexing female children)
I was mesmerized, haunted, and completely drawn into the pain of the main character. Yes, the practice is foreign to a Western white woman, and for that matter horrifying... but what amazed me was Walker's artistic weaving in of social and psychological issues to the act of FGM that come back to issues present in society today that plague even one such as myself.
FGM has taken up residence in my consciousness most recently because of my Women's Studies class I'm taking at UC Davis. I have found myself compelled to know more, to understand more, and to advocate for women where possible. What I did not expect (but I should have) was to come up against my own darkness in the process.
The next few months and the paper I hope to write about this journey should be ... interesting to say the least... enlightening, I hope... one step at a time.