July 24th, 2004

Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker

I have sat down today and read this book in one sitting.  Whilst reading I drank copious amounts of red wine and now, after finishing the book, I find that my jaws are aching from where I've had them clenched together.

This isn't a follow-up to The Color Purple but follows Tashi (Evelyn) the African girl who became Adam's wife and went with him when he returned to America.

It follows the effect that her 'bathing' - her total female circumcision - vulva, clitoris inner labia and then what's left sewn so tightly that intercourse not only doesn't give pleasure but is known to cause bleeding everytime, has on her - and women went back after the birth of a child to have their vagina re-sewn up - tighter if possible to keep their husbands happy and maintain their ... oh god knows what!!in the eyes of the tribe.

It is the only book I have ever read that caused me to cry at the end.  I've come away grateful that I'm not part of a culture which does it.  and many, apparently, still do it.  Africans, Far and Middle East - nowadays, in civilised countries like America it is done with an anaesthetic and a scalpel rather than piece of broken glass or a tin can, but it is still mutilation. 

It makes me want to do something ---  but what? 

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