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The encounters that rupture the myth: contradictions in midwives´descriptions and explanations of circumcised women immigrants´sexuality

Health Care Women Int. 2004 25(8): 743-760. 10.1080/07399330490475593

The encounters that rupture the myth: contradictions in midwives´descriptions and explanations of circumcised women immigrants´sexuality

Leval A, Widmark C, Tishelman C, Ahlberg BM

ABSTRACT

The purpose of the study was to analyze how Swedish midwives (n = 26) discuss sexuality in circumcised African women patients. In focus groups and interviews, discussions concentrated on care provided to circumcised women, training received for this care, and midwives’ perceptions of female circumcision. An analytic expansion was performed for discussions pertaining to sexuality and gender roles. Results from the analysis show the following: (1) ethnocentric projections of sexuality; (2) a knowledge paradox regarding circumcision and sexuality; (3) the view of the powerless circumcised women; and (4) the fact that maternity wards function as meeting places between gender and culture where the encounters with men allow masculine hegemonic norms to be ruptured. We conclude that an increased understanding of cultural epistemology is needed to ensure quality care. The encounters that take place in obstetrical care situations can provide a space where gender and culture as prescribed norms can be questioned.

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