Criticizing Female Genital Mutilation Practice from Feminist Standpoint Theory: A View from Communication Science Perspective

Hendar Putranto(1*)

(1) 1) Ph. D. Candidate in Communication Science, Universitas Indonesia 2) Senior Lecturer in Strategic Communication, Universitas Multimedia Nusantara
(*) Corresponding Author


This conceptual review examines Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice in Indonesia viewed from Feminist Standpoint Theory (FST). The current study uses a literature review to build an argumentative contribution from communication science perspective. FGM is a global phenomenon locally and culturally practiced in more than 29 countries, including Indonesia. Despite many state regulations and international treaties forbidding the practice because of its harmful consequences, FGM practice is persistently maintained by religion, culture, tradition, and other factors. The author proposes FST as a theoretical base to criticize FGM because it does not represent the lived experience of women, marginalizes women further to the brink of ideal democratic participation, and does not contribute towards the positive construction of female selfhood. The author will elaborate on these three objections using the communication science perspective within the Indonesian cultural context. The author proposes more action-oriented theorizing to overcome FST's practical deficiency by providing insights from critical intercultural communication. Women's collective agency based on situated knowledge will empower their communicative skills as enablers of transformation to eradicate FGM.


Female Genital Mutilation; Feminist Standpoint Theory; the lived experience of women; female selfhood; feminist perspective

Full Text:



Ahmady, K. (2016). In the Name of Tradition: Female Genital Mutilation in Iran. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: UnCUT/VOICES Press.

Alamri, Y. (2016). The patient's perspective: Female genital mutilation in Arab and Islamic history. Health Care for Women International, 37(12), 1259-1260, DOI: 10.1080/07399332.2016.1256401

Allen, B. J. (1996) Feminist standpoint theory: A black woman's (re)view of organizational socialization. Communication Studies, 47(4), 257-271, DOI: 10.1080/10510979609368482

Andreasson, S. (2014). Conservatism. In Geoghegan, V. and Wilford, R. Editors. Political Ideologies: An Introduction, 4th ed. London: Routledge.

Androus, Z. (2006). Female genital cutting: A sociological analysis. The International Journal of Human Rights 9(4), 535-538.

Berg, R. C., Denison, E., & Fretheim, A. (2010). Factors promoting and hindering the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Oslo, Norway: Report from Kunnskapssenteret (Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services), no. 23–2010.

Berg, R. C. & Denison, E. (2013). A Tradition in Transition: Factors Perpetuating and Hindering the Continuance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Summarized in a Systematic Review. Health Care for Women International, 34(10), 837-859. DOI: 10.1080/07399332.2012.721417

Bowell, T. (2011). Feminist Standpoint Theory. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from (on December 17, 2019, 09.06 WIB)

Bradley, T. (ed.). (2011). Women, Violence and Tradition : Taking FGM and Other Practices to a Secular State. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic & Professional.

Bryson, V. ([1992] 2003). Feminist Political Theory: An Introduction, Second Edition. Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cappa, C., Van Baelen, L., and Leye, E. (2019). The practice of female genital mutilation across the world: Data availability and approaches to measurement. Global Public Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, 14(8), 1139-1152.

Collins, P. H. (1986). Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought. Social Problems, 33(6): s14-s32.

Collins, P. H. ([1990] 2000). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Second Edition, Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition. New York and London: Routledge.

Craig, R. T. (2018). For a Practical Discipline. Journal of Communication, 68(2), 289–297.

Curtin, M. L. (2010). Coculturation: Toward A Critical Theoretical Framework of Cultural Adjustment. In Thomas K. Nakayama and Rona Tamiko Halualani. Eds. The Handbook of Critical Intercultural Communication. Malden, MA and Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Davis, K. (2004). Responses to W. Njambi’s ‘Dualisms and female bodies in representations of African female circumcision: a feminist critique’ Between moral outrage and cultural relativism. Feminist Theory, 5(3), 305–323. DOI: 10.1177/1464700104046977

DeVito, J. A. (2013). The Interpersonal Communication Book. 13th edition. Boston, New York: Pearson.

Eko, B. S. and Putranto, H. (2019). The Role of Intercultural Competence and Local Wisdom in Building Intercultural and Inter-religious Tolerance. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 48(4), 341-369.

Feillard, A., & Marcoes, L. (1998). Female circumcision in Indonesia: To ‘Islamize’ in ceremony or secrecy. Archipel, L’horizon nousantarien. Mélanges en hommage à Denys Lombard, 56, 337–367. doi :

Galeotti, A. E. (2007). Relativism, Universalism, and Applied Ethics: The Case of Female Circumcision. Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, 14(1), 91-111.

Griffin, E., Ledbetter, A., and Sparks, G. (2019). A First Look at Communication Theory. Tenth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Gruenbaum, E. (2001). The female circumcision controversy: an anthropological perspective. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

---. (2005a). Feminist activism for the abolition of FGC in Sudan. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies, 1(2): 89–111. doi:10.1215/15525864-2005-2004.

---. (2005b). Socio-cultural dynamics of female genital cutting: research findings, gaps, and directions. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 7(5): 429–441. doi:10.1080/13691050500262953.

---. (2006). Sexuality issues in the movement to abolish female genital cutting in Sudan. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 20(1): 121–138. doi:10.1525/maq.2006.20.1.121.

Guiné, A. and Fuentes, F. J. M. (2007). Engendering Redistribution, Recognition, and Representation: The Case of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the United Kingdom and France. Politics & Society, 35(3), 477-519. DOI: 10.1177/0032329207304315.

Hallstein, D. L. O'B. (1999). A postmodern caring: Feminist standpoint theories, revisioned caring, and communication ethics. Western Journal of Communication, 63(1), 32-56. DOI: 10.1080/10570319909374627

Halualani, R. T. (2019). Intercultural Communication: A Critical Perspective. Cognella, Inc.

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575-599.

Harding, S. (1986). The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

---. (1992). Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What is “Strong Objectivity?” The Centennial Review, 36(3), 437-470. Michigan State University Press. Retrieved from

Hartsock, N. C. M. (1983). The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism. In Harding S. and Hintikka M.B. Editors. (2004). Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (pp. 283-310). New York, Boston, Dordrecht, London, Moscow: Kluwer Academic Publishers. DOI:

Hasyim, S. (2020). Fatwas and Democracy: Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI, Indonesian Ulema Council) and Rising Conservatism in Indonesian Islam. TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, 8(1), 21-35. DOI:

Hendarto, Y. M. (2019, June 28). Ruang Abu-abu Sunat Perempuan. Riset-Kajian Data, Kompas. Retrieved from (on December 15, 2019, 21.10 WIB)

Hermanto, A. (2016). Khitan Perempuan Antara Tradisi dan Syari’ah. Kalam: Jurnal Studi Agama dan Pemikiran Islam, 10(1), 257-294.

Hidayana, I. M., Djamilah, Imelda, J. D., Kartikawati, R., & Zahro, F. A. (2018). Female Circumcision in Indonesia: Between policy and practice. In FGM/C: From Medicine to Critical Anthropology (pp. 95-106). Meti Edizioni.

Hirschmann, N. J. (1997). Feminist Standpoint as Postmodern Strategy. Women & Politics, 18(3), 73-92.

Hodijah, S. N. and Indraswari. (eds.). (2018). Persimpangan antara Tradisi & Modernitas: Hasil Kajian Kualitatif Pemotongan/Pelukaan Genitalia Perempuan (P2GP) di 10 Provinsi 17 Kabupaten/Kota. Retrieved from (on December 15, 2019, 21.27 WIB)

Hosken, F. P. (1979). The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females. Lexington, MA: Women's International Network News.

Ida, R. and Saud, M. (2020). Female Circumcision and the Construction of Female Sexuality: A Study on Madurese in Indonesia. Sexuality & Culture 24.

Ira R., W. (2017, April 19). Sunat Perempuan Didukung Perda di Jambi. Retrieved from (on December 18, 2019, 09.53 WIB).

Jaakkola, E. (2020). Designing conceptual articles: four approaches. AMS Review 10, 18–26.

Julios, C. (2019). Female Genital Mutilation and Social Media. New York and London: Routledge.

Kandala, N-B., & Komba, P. N. (2018). Female Genital Mutilation around The World: Analysis of Medical Aspects, Law and Practice. Cham (Switzerland): Springer.

Keller, E. F. (1985). Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Littlejohn, S. W., Foss, K. A., and Oetzel, J. G. (2017). Theories of Human Communication. Eleventh Edition. Long Grove, Illinois (USA): Waveland Press, Inc.

Llamas, J. (2017). Female Circumcision: The History, the Current Prevalence and the Approach to a Patient. Retrieved from (on December 12, 2019, 20.26 WIB)

Longino, H. E. (1990). Science as Social Knowledge: Values and Objectivity in Scientific Inquiry. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI). (2008, May 7).

McLaughlin, L. (1995). Feminist Communication Scholarship and “The Woman Question” in the Academy. Communication Theory, 5(2): 144-161. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.1995.tb00103.x

Mende, J. (2011). Begründungsmuster weiblicher Genitalverstümmelung: Zur Vermittlung von Kulturrelativismus und Universalismus. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.

---. (2018). Normative and Contextual Feminism. Lessons from the Debate around Female Genital Mutilation. Gender Forum; Köln, (67), 47-69,111

Moon, D. G., & Holling, M. A. (2020). “White supremacy in heels”: (White) feminism, white supremacy, and discursive violence. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 17(2): 253–260.

Moruzzi, N. C. (2005). Cutting through Culture: The Feminist Discourse on Female Circumcision. Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, 14(2), 203-220. DOI: 10.1080/10669920500135587

Mottin-Sylla, M-H. and Palmieri, J. (2011). Confronting female genital mutilation: The role of youth and ICTs in changing Africa. Translated by Mamsaït Jagne. Cape Town, Dakar, Nairobi and Oxford: Pambazuka Press, the International Development Research Centre and Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde.

Mulia, M. (2014). Sunat Perempuan dalam Perspektif Islam. Jurnal Perempuan. Retrieved from (on December 14, 2019, 21.25 WIB)

Nakayama, T. K. and Martin, J. N. (2017). Critical Intercultural Communication, Overview. In Kim, Y. Y. (General Editor). The International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication. DOI: 10.1002/9781118783665.ieicc0194

Naples, N. A. (2017). Feminist Standpoint Theory. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 1–6. doi:10.1002/9781405165518.wbeosf044.pub2

Njambi, W. N. (2004). Dualisms and female bodies in representations of African female circumcision: A feminist critique. Feminist Theory, 5(3), 281–303. DOI: 10.1177/1464700104040811

Nurdiyana, T. (2010). Sunat Perempuan pada Masyarakat Banjar di kota Banjarmasin. Komunitas, Jurnal Fakultas Ilmu Sosial, Universitas Negeri Semarang, 2 (2), 116-124. DOI:

Nurmila, N. (ed.) (2019). Kertas Konsep: Pencegahan dan Penghapusan Pemotongan/Pelukaan Genitalia Perempuan (P2GP). Jakarta: Penerbit Komisi Nasional Anti Kekerasan terhadap Perempuan (Komnas Perempuan)

Nyangweso, M. (2014). Female Genital Cutting in Industrialized Countries: Mutilation or Cultural Tradition? Santa Barbara (USA): Praeger.

OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO. (2008). Eliminating Female genital mutilation: An interagency statement. Geneva: World Health Organization.

Piller, I. (2017). Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction. Edinburgh University Press.

Pratiwi, Y. D. (2022). Transplantasi Pengaturan Larangan Praktik Female Genital Mutilation melalui Studi Perbandingan Indonesia dengan Mesir. Jurnal HAM, 13(1), 45-64. doi: 10.30641/ham.2022.13.45-64.

Puji, S. T. (2018, February 7). Toleransi Zero Bagi Sunat Perempuan. Republika. Retrieved from (on December 14, 2019, 21.41 WIB)

Putranti, B. D. (2008). To Islamize, Becoming a Real Woman or Commercialized Practices? Questioning Female Genital Cutting in Indonesia. Finnish Journal of Ethnicity and Migration, 3(2), 23-31. Retrieved from

Rakow, L. F. (1987). Looking to the Future: Five Questions for Gender Research. Women's Studies in Communication, 10(2): 79-86. DOI: 10.1080/07491409.1987.11089708

Rakow, L. F. (2022). A Feminist Odyssey from the Personal to the Public. In Stine Eckert and Ingrid Bachmann. Eds. Reflections on feminist communication and media scholarship: Theory, Method, Impact (pp. 61-73). New York and London: Routledge.

Ratnasari, E. D. (2017, March 29). Bukan Manfaat, Sunat Perempuan Malah Beri Efek Buruk. CNN Indonesia. Retrieved from (on December 14, 2019, 21.30 WIB)

Regional Regulation of the city of Jambi, Number 2, Year 2012. Retrieved from

Regional Regulation of the city of Jambi, Number 8, Year 2015.

Regulation of The Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia (Peraturan Menteri Kesehatan Republik Indonesia), Number 1636/MENKES/PER/XI/2010, on Female Circumcision. Retrieved from

Regulation of The Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia (Peraturan Menteri Kesehatan Republik Indonesia), Number 6 Year 2014, on the Revocation of Regulation of The Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia (Peraturan Menteri Kesehatan Republik Indonesia), Number 1636/MENKES/PER/XI/2010, on Female Circumcision. Retrieved from

Rezaeeahan, F. M. (2012). Theories on Female Genital Mutilation. Retrieved from atau (on December 12, 2019, 20.22 WIB)

Rokhmah, I. & Hani, U. (2015). Sunat Perempuan dalam Perspektif Budaya, Agama dan Kesehatan (Studi Kasus di Masyarakat Desa Baddui, Kecamatan Galeson, Kabupaten Takalar, Sulawesi Selatan). Jurnal Kebidanan dan Keperawatan, 11(2), 103-111. DOI: 10.31101/jkk.85

Rouzi, A. A. (2013). Facts and controversies on female genital mutilation and Islam. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18(1), 10-14. DOI: 10.3109/13625187.2012.749982

Salma, S. (2017). Tradisi Sunat Perempuan di Lampasi Tigo Nagari. Al-Manahij: Jurnal Kajian Hukum Islam, 10(1), 155-167.

Sandoval, C. (2000). Methodology of the oppressed. Minneapolis, MN (USA): The University of Minnesota Press.

Shell-Duncan, B., Moreau, A., Wander, K., and Smith, S. (2018). The role of older women in contesting norms associated with female genital mutilation/cutting in Senegambia: A factorial focus group analysis. PLoS ONE 13(7): e0199217.

Spelman, E. V. (1982). Woman as Body: Ancient and Contemporary Views. Feminist Studies, 8(1), 109-131. Retrieved from

Smith, D. E. (1987). The Everyday World as Problematic. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

---. (1990). The conceptual practices of power: A feminist sociology of knowledge. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

---. (1992). Sociology from Women's Experience: A Reaffirmation. Sociological Theory, 10(1), 88-98.

Spitzberg, B. H. (2000). A Model of Intercultural Communication Competence. In Samovar, L. A. and Porter, R., Eds. Intercultural Communication: a Reader, Ninth Edition (pp. 379-391). Wadsworth, Inc.

Stoetzler, M. and Yuval-Davis, N. (2002). Standpoint theory, situated knowledge and the situated imagination. Feminist Theory, 3(3), 315–333.

Suryandaru, Y. S. and Liestianingsih, D. (2004). Sunat Anak Perempuan pada Masyarakat Urban Madura. Jurnal Penelitian Dinamika Sosial, 5(1), 43-53.

Susilastuti, D. H., Kiswanto, E., Widyaningrum, N. & Purwatiningsih, S. (2017). Pemotongan/Perlukaan Genitalia Perempuan (P2GP)/Sunat Perempuan: Persimpangan antara Tradisi dan Modernitas. Yogyakarta: Pusat Studi Kependudukan dan Kebijakan Universitas Gadjah Mada.

Tuin, I. v. d. (2016). Feminist Standpoint Theory. In Naples, N. A. Editor. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, First Edition (pp. 1-4). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. DOI: 10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss040

Uddin, J. (2010). Khitan perempuan: dari sudut pandang sosial, budaya, kesehatan, dan agama. Jakarta: Universitas Yarsi Press.

UNICEF. (2016). Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern. Retrieved from

---. (2020). Approximately 1 in 4 survivors of female genital mutilation were cut by a health care provider. Retrieved from (on December 31, 2021, 12.35 WIB)

Valdivia, A. N. (2021). Feminist Media Studies: We Need to Take Intersectionality Seriously. In Stine Eckert and Ingrid Bachmann. Eds. Reflections on feminist communication and media scholarship: Theory, Method, Impact (pp. 133-147). New York and London: Routledge.

Vernet, J. P., Vala, J., & Butera, F. (2011). Can men promote feminist movements? Outgroup influence sources reduce attitude change toward feminist movements. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 14(5): 723–733.

Walther, J. B. (2022). The Theory of Interpersonal Knowledge: Interaction Requirements to Develop Dyad-Specific Familiarity. In Dawn O. Braithwaite and Paul Schrodt. Eds. Engaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication: Multiple Perspectives, 3rd Edition (pp. 391-402). New York and London: Routledge.

West, R. and Turner, L. H. (2010). Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application. New York (USA): McGraw-Hill.

Wood, J. T. (1994). Who Cares? Women, Care, and Culture. Southern Illinois University Press.

---. (2009). Communication in Our Lives. Fifth Edition. Boston, MA (USA): Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 2628 | views : 1425


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Humaniora

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

free web stats Web Stats

ISSN 2302-9269 (online); ISSN 0852-0801 (print)
Copyright © 2022 Humaniora, Office of Journal & Publishing, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada