Aman, the Story of a Somali Girl

Reply Sun 28 Jan, 2007 07:49 pm
Has anybody read it? It was assigned reading for a cultural anthropology class I am taking, and I just finished it and would like to discuss it a bit, if anyone should care to...

It's written as it was told to Virginia Lee Barnes, who died before it was published, so it then became a collaborative work with Janice Boddy finishing up the manuscript. Its strength is that it really reads as a snapshot into the Somali culture of the 1960s, as seen through the eyes of a young girl. The most surprising and disturbing part, to me, was that Aman wanted a clitoridectomy, and in spite of the pain and what my western mind sees as the horrible violation, in the concluding chapters of the book, she still advocates tham as being good for women, claims it smells better and is less dirty when a woman has one... Otoh, she is only 19, or not much older than that when she makes that claim... and she confuses whether it has cultural or religious significance for her people... (I would contend that it has no religious significance to muslims... in fact would probably fall under being an abomination since mutilation of the body is that...)

There are some other problems I have with the book, although perhaps I am being a bit of a nit picker... She changed a whole bunch of names, even the name of her village... She got money from being with men, but seems to not accept the title of prostitute... Then her own pseudenym is "trustworthy... Confused Oh, and biggest surprise, when I was looking around at sites about female circumcision online, her words are used to represent african women on one site! I need to go back to look for whether or not Aman was credited with the statement... something about african women being the ones who should decide what to do about female circumcision in Africa...
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Reply Sun 28 Jan, 2007 10:45 pm
Haven't read it <bookmark>
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Reply Mon 29 Jan, 2007 03:37 am
Here's the link to her words, as reported by Boddy (and Barnes, posthumously.)

"If Somali women change, it will be a change done by us, among us. When they order us to stop, tell us what we must do, it is offensive to the black person or the Muslim person who believes in circumcision. To advise is good, but not to order."22
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