3690: A Journal of First-Year Student Research Writing

Author Image

Erin Kerwin Photo


MLA, Global issues, Health, WGST


Overview: Female genital mutilation is a form of gender-based violence that impacts girls and women in many regions around the world. Conventional wisdom mistakenly defines FGM as the removal of the clitoris, but there are three additional types: partial or total extraction of the clitoris and the labia minora, the narrowing of the vaginal opening, and other harmful non-medical procedures that mutilate the vaginal area (Siddig). This atrocity is predominantly performed in Nigeria and other African countries, but also other places in the world including the United States. Israa Siddig, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, explains, “[FGM] is still practiced in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. With increasing international migration, many women of diaspora populations living in Europe and North America have either undergone or are at risk of FGM” (Siddig 912). Ultimately, what is at stake here are the rights to one’s own body and the reclamation of these rights that should not have been initially revoked.

Author's Reflection: My name is Erin Kerwin, and I am a biology pre-pharmacy student at St. John Fisher College. I have always relished math and science, but I've also have always been an avid reader and enjoyed writing. The idea for the paper was based on a TedTalk that I watched many years ago regarding a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which I was reintroduced to through my research writing class.

Throughout the process, I struggled with writing my thesis. I had an abundance of information from my sources, but I did not know how to incorporate my own ideas. I began to organize my ideas by creating annotated bibliographies and the literature review. After completing both, I began incorporating my own ideas and synthesis.

I really enjoyed writing this paper because it forced me to become more open-minded and accepting regarding gender based issues and the unknown (to me) complexities surrounding them. This experience has allowed me to take a profusion of information and condense it to fit my argument. This research writing class has benefited my writing skills and helped me produce a paper that I am very proud of.

Dr. Arndt's Summary: Erin’s paper, addressing the effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), investigates a painful and challenging topic. She shows great skill in presenting information from her sources through the focused use of quotes and summary framed within her own rich analysis. She notes that she struggled with the process of refining her thesis – as she engaged in that task, she organized her paper around her position that FGM must end. The result of her hard work is a masterful deconstruction of the arguments advocating for FGM.

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