Masculinties in the Continuum of Violence in Latin America

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Mara Viverto’s journal, Masculinties in the Continuum of Violence in Latin America (2016) touches ground on the notion of violence – specifically, how it seen as a symbolic and social structure governing the mechanism of gender subordination. Too many times have women been manipulated into submission and do as others command, or face death. To prevent such case, women across the cultures have undergone drastic procedures in an attempt to survive in their gender-killing residence. Female mutilation is a common practice in certain regions of Africa and Asia in particular; this malpractice is existent to ensure and preserve patriarchy across the globe. Societies that are more inclined to patriarchy lack substantial women’s rights. This idea supports the fact that female mutilation often performed on women that have been conditioned to believe it is the right thing to undergo for the sake of their future husbands, their family honor, and also to chasten them as young girls. Throughout history, women have always been controlled by someone or something for their entire life – this behavior makes them give in and accept stereotypes that abuse and violate them.

A certain violence against women occurring in present day society is breast ironing, interchangeably known as breast flattening, a practiced procedure in West and Central, Africa. It could be understood as the pounding of a young adolescent girl’s breast using a sharp or heated object in an attempt to prevent development—which has harmful effects on the young woman’s health. The procedure, heavily correlated with female body mutilation and sexual control, is usually carried out by a woman in the family such as a grandmother, an aunt, or the mother herself. It is tragic to read about mothers who have performed such painful, and sometimes deadly, procedures on their daughters as a testament of love and care for their wellbeing. The procedure is done with the logic that flattening the adolescent’s breast will protect the girl from rape and sexual harassment; additionally, it is carried out to prevent early pregnancy, in doing so, it is believed early marriage will not occur and the girl will have higher chances of pursuing an education – which is highly contestable.

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Rachel Pearsell’s article, The Harmful Tradition Practice of Breast Ironing in Cameroon, Africa (2017) closely examines the harmful traditional practice of breast ironing carried out in Cameroon, Africa. It is understood that breast ironing is often performed to maintain status within the family and society. People in Cameroon firmly believe that flattened breast will be unattractive to men which is a mechanism of protection against rape; thus, this male privilege, the result of the patriarchal system, makes mutilation a requirement for women’s survival in Cameroon. In her article she illuminates, “the practice [breast ironing] effects around one-quarter of the female population in Cameroon, with 24% of young girls having experienced this traumatic process” (Pearsell 2017: 1). It becomes evident that the main purpose or logic behind this procedure is to discourage teenage girls from seducing men and engaging in premarital sex, thus, decreasing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Despite mothers’ well intentions, the consequences of this painful and traumatic practice certainly do not outweigh the benefits – breast ironing is accompanied by many health implications that include but are not limited to, infection, itching, disfiguration, cysts, and scars, to name a few. Moreover, there is not suffice scientific evidence to determine whether such practice reduces engaging in sexual activity.

Another form of female mutilation my paper will delve into is the growing phenomena of the female circumcision. Female genital mutilation, abbreviated FGM, is a practice where the external female genitalia is partially or entirely excised for non-medical reasons, and often times without the consent of the individual. It is done as a rite of passage preparing young girls for womanhood and marriage. Researchers and activist claim that the procedure has no medical benefits and harms girls and women in countless ways. In that, the procedure involves damaging and removing female genital tissue, consequently, interfering with the natural function of the body. Often performed without any anesthetic by unqualified practitioners with little to know knowledge about medicine and its harmful implications – female circumcision has high mortality rates and known to cause several health problems. Despite the serious health risks of female circumcision – including death during the procedure, suffering a hemorrhaging, being treated with unsterilized instrument – long term effects such as menstrual problems, painful sexual experiences, urination problems, and complications during pregnancy, despite all that little has been done on a national, let alone a global scale to prevent such practices from occurring.

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Masculinties in the Continuum of Violence in Latin America. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from

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