The war of terminology is sometimes more damaging than the wars of arms. This is simply because it aims at the truth to submerge it, distort it, or simply eliminate it.
The history keeps a record of how oppressive regimes have always dictated their chosen terminology. They meant by that to subvert the reality, control the minds, and polish their image, or demonize their enemies, which were often those who struggled for their rights and the cause of justice.
An example of this war is the label of “Female Genital Mutilation” coined by some and generalized to refer to all forms of Female Genital Cutting (FGC), known where it is practiced as “Female Circumcision” or “the celebration” or the “purification” or the “cleansing” or the “beautification.”
Despite the fact that many forms of Female Genital Cutting deserve that label, the unfounded generalization is an offense to logic and an assault on the truth. It is based on ignorance, arrogance, and cultural and ethnic biases.
There is not a single shred of evidence on the harms of some forms of Female Genital Cutting. Please read more here. That is why Richard Shweder, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago, said, “Female genital mutilation” is an invidious and essentially debate-subverting label. The preemptive use of that expression is just as invidious as starting a conversation about a women’s right to choose by describing abortion as the “murder of innocent life… many African women similarly object to naming a practice which they describe in local terms as “the celebration” or the “purification” or the “cleansing” or the “beautification” as “the mutilation.”
What is even sadder is that many media outlets and thinkers who preach to us day and night the values of open-mindedness and understanding fail often to walk their talk. John Tierney, editor of the TiernyLab, had the following to say about this, “Indeed, the press in general has served as an effective outlet for the advocacy groups and has kept itself innocent of available sources of information that run counter to the received horror arousing story-line about barbaric or ignorant or victimized Africans who maim, murder, and disfigure their daughters and deprive them of a capacity to experience sexual pleasure. With rare exceptions, the only African women who have been given a direct voice and allowed to speak for themselves in our media are those who oppose the practice.”
I wonder whether the people who practice those forms of intellectual hegemony have studied logic 101 in college. The sad answer is that they did. However, whenever there is ill-intention or blinding prejudice, the sun may not be visible in the middle of a summer day.