Nnedi Okorafor on Who Fears Death
In my novel, Who Fears Death, there is a scene where some girls are…cut. In this future world, the mythos behind the practice has been forgotten but a girl is still expected to have the cliterectomy done. If it is not done, then the girl is not considered marriageable. Still, no girl is forced. It is her choice to have it done. . Clean medical tools are used and the girls receive proper medical care afterwards. In other words, in this African future, girls do not die from this practice as they do today. The scene strips the practice down to exactly what it is.
Back in the early stages of this novel, I workshopped this scene in my novel writing class during my PhD program. My class was all white, from what I recall. After reading it, two women became particularly upset with me. During the critque, I sat there quiet as they accused me of defending female genital cutting. I guess they wanted me to demonize the culture and shout “Barbaric! Barbaric people! Look at what they are doing to their girls and women!” Over the years, the circumcision scene in Who Fears Death has not changed much. So now here I am being accused of the opposite, publically disrespecting traditional African culture.