How Female Genital Mutilation Ruins a Life: Tashi’s Story in Possessing The Secret of Joy


  • Nimet Kaya Karadağ



female genital mutilation, sexuality, women’s rights, Alice Walker, Simone de Beauvoir


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is clearly one of the cruelest examples of violating women’s human rights. It is generally performed under primitive conditions and may result in death, and even the lucky ones who can survive have to face its disastrous consequences both in their social and sexual life. Its main aim is to prevent a woman having a sexual satisfaction by removing clitoris, which would avoid sexual intercourse before marriage or avoid adultery, and to enable men have more pleasure out of sexual intercourse by making the vagina tighter. In Possessing the Secret of Joy, we read Tashi’s story; she has sex with her boyfriend and experiences orgasm before getting married although in her society it is strictly forbidden. Then, she decides to get mutilated as a reaction to the colonial forces. However, she cannot reach sexual and mental satisfaction she had before, and, in the end, she decides to kill the woman who mutilated a lot of girls and Tashi herself. The novel gives the reader an insight into the suffering of mutilated women while telling the reader how and why it is still practiced. The aim of this paper is to show in which ways women are forced to perform FGM and how their lives are devastated after the procedure via studying Walker’s protagonist Tashi’s life. The theoretical framework of the study will be drawn from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, an outstanding book in the history of feminist theory as it is often thought to be the starting point of second-wave feminism. In this paper de Beauvoir’s views on the role of traditions, taboos, and religions in women’s oppression, women’s longing for social acceptance, chastity and women’s dilemma while trying to conform to society’s expectations from her and how these views are ...


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How to Cite

Kaya Karadağ, N. (2017). How Female Genital Mutilation Ruins a Life: Tashi’s Story in Possessing The Secret of Joy. Kadın/Woman 2000, Journal for Women’s Studies, 18(1), 127–143.