Ukwaluka/ukusoka : a gender analysis of the symbolism of male circumcision as perceived by amaXhosa men and women in Clermont.
Nkosi, Promise Makhosazane.
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Male circumcision evokes emotive responses with those who either support or oppose the practice. It is an area of human interaction that has remained outside the public arena as a result of cultural taboos, but has increasingly come under public scrutiny due to the deaths of young boys as a result of unhygienic circumcision. Some taboos raise the spectre of death over anybody who dares to divulge the secrets of the ritual to outsiders. Male circumcision has resulted in public debates due to death and fatalities of some boys who undergo the ritual, but not much has been done to investigate the impact that male circumcision has on the social lives of the circumcised living in urban areas. This study investigates some of the reasons for the practice of traditional male initiation rituals by amaXhosa males who reside in Clermont-KwaDabeka (Durban); and explores, analyses and assesses the social meaning and effects of male circumcision. An analysis is offered about some of the gendered constructions related to sexual pleasure as an effect of male circumcision as perceived by Xhosa men and women living in Clermont-KwaDabeka. The processes involved in circumcision rites for the circumciser and the circumcised are examined in order to establish the context for the study and to extrapolate the processes in order to reflect on the meaning of the ritual. The study highlights the ongoing debate as to whether circumcision may be practiced as a health intervention strategy, and suggests that male circumcision has no impact on the sexual pleasure experienced by women, and concludes that female orgasm (s) is a problematic issue that needs further investigation. The study also conceives male circumcision as a cultural practice, and as a social construction that is gendered. The study recommends further interrogation of the issues pertaining to culture, sex, sexuality, gender, masculinities and male circumcision in order that this will serve as an intervention towards socialization of boys, and help them in making informed decisions before undergoing initiation.