The international diffusion of similar laws and policies across nations is now a well-covered theme in sociology, but no one has yet asked what these similar laws and policies mean. We take the case of anti-female-genital-cutting policies in Egypt, Tanzania, and the U.S. and turn our attention to how local political situations interacted with international discourse. Functional relevance and international standing combined to affect levels of contestation. This, in turn, influenced how states chose to implement anti-FGC policies and the extent to which they distanced themselves from international actors. Exploring these issues uncovered power differences in acquiescence to international norms, going to the heart of multi-level power relations in the international system.