Rwandan gukuna trouble: Femocracy, feminisms and critical anthropology
This article analyses the ritual gukuna (i.e. the elongation of the labia minora) in Rwanda and among the Rwandan diaspora in Italy. This practice – along with the kunyaza (male sexual technique) – is expected to increase sexual pleasure. When I started fieldwork(in the late 1990s), the gukuna could be seen as a secret of female sexuality. Since the mid-2000s, new subjectivities started to emerge, with the introduction of gender-sensitive policies in the post-genocide context and with the rise of state feminism and a femocratic class. Furthermore, the movie Sacred water (2016) revealed the gukuna to the broader public, as a mystery of female ejaculation. Yet, according to WHO the gukuna remains a genital mutilation that must be “eradicated”. Properly understood, gukuna reveals and challenges the culturalist and victimizing assumptions of the hegemonic representations of both FGM and the “African women”, highlighting the continuities between the moralities of colonialism and humanitarianism, and some feminist trends, now locally incorporated. The article aims at deconstructing the gender mainstreaming discourse around gukuna as a “harmful traditional practice”, in order to reflect on gender in Rwandan contemporary politics.
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