Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women
In her best-selling 1992 novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker opened a painful door: she brought the issue of female genital mutilation, a practice that affects one hundred million of the world's women, to the attention of the reading public. For many readers, this first encounter with a subject previously unfamiliar to them was shocking and unforgettable. Alice Walker decided early in the process of writing her novel that she had not yet done enough to help stop this age-old practice. She resolved to make a documentary film that would further educate people about the harmful, sometimes deadly process of removing the clitoris - and often the remaining outer genitalia - as a means of maintaining tradition and ensuring a woman's "cleanliness" and fidelity. To make the film, Alice Walker teamed up with Indian-British filmmaker Pratibha Parmar, whose credits include several widely acclaimed documentaries focusing on issues of race, gender, and sexuality. This book chronicles their odyssey together. Warrior Marks describes a unique filmmaking journey, from Alice Walker's first letter to Pratibha Parmar proposing the idea of the film to the many journal entries and observations each of them made along the way. From California to England to Senegal, The Gambia, and Burkina Faso, Warrior Marks follows Walker and Parmar as they interview people who are concerned with and affected by the practice of female genital mutilation. The text includes transcripts of their interviews, three new poems by Alice Walker, and over fifty photographs offering a vivid and poignant portrayal of the people and places they visited. For its insights into the collaborative creative process, as well as itsperceptions about the politics of filmmaking and the politics of feminism, Warrior Marks is an extraordinary volume. It is also the adventure of two remarkable women who together fulfilled a dream.