NB: Believe it or not, I actually had to close comments, the first time I’ve ever had to do it. They had become so offensive without any useful content that it’s no longer worthwhile to keep it going. Sorry.

I have repeatedly vowed to stay away from this topic, but in defense of my colleague, I must speak out. Harriet Hall, from sciencebasedmedicine.com wrote a brief piece examining the medical literature regarding male circumcision. As part of the discussion, she mentioned having performed many of these procedures during an earlier part of her career. In response to her interesting post, she received comments such as this one:

Dr. Hall needs to confess her guilt for the intentional injury of scores of infant males and reexamine her motives in writing this document.


In response to one of my comments:

Peter Lipson, its no surprise that you don’t care about the feelings of adult men who wish their parents has chosen differently. The American medical establishment has been belittling intact men and men like me for decades.

A frequently made point:

I wonder, do people here who consider themselves pro male circumcision also support female circumcision in Africa in its various forms? Why or why not? Do they support all acts of genital modification of babies for religious or cultural reasons? Or are some okay and some not?

OK, here’s the deal. For whatever reason, male circumcision seems to get people pretty fired up. From my reading of this post and many others, there are basically those who don’t feel very strongly about it, and those who think it is the equivalent of female genital mutilation, or worse. I don’t think it’s necessary to rehash all the arguments for and against the practice; you can go read Harriet’s piece. The first comment, treating circumcision as some sort of crime against humanity, is insane.

There is a strange thread of phallus-worship running through this discussion. I’m not sure how “the…medical establishment has been belittling intact men…” but this visceral and emotional “attachment” to the prepuce predominates many of these discussions. When female genital mutilation (FGM) is brought up, it is usually minimized:

In countries where FGM occurs it is usually the women who perpetuated it onto their daughters, they often don’t feel it was a violation. Heck in Indonesia it’s done on neonates, just like males here. So how do they know what is missing? What reason would they have to stop it, they’re fine. It’s the same dance just a different tune.

…and…

Many cultures that practice FGM only perform either a type I Ritual circumcision:
The clitoris is wounded by pricking it with a needle or by pinching it so as to make a few drops of blood run. In Somalia even this way is called “sunna” or a type II Sunna: The covering of the clitoris is removed, not the clitoris itself.

In many places it is performed, such as Indonesia or Egypt, it is done by medical professionals. So the question is a good one. Why are we vehemently opposed to one, in even it’s mildest form, and not the other.

Independent of how you may feel about male circumcision, it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences. FGM nearly always does. FGM is not usually as “simple” as a pinprick. And who performs it is irrelevant. If women are co-opted into torturing each other by the dominant male culture, that is most emphatically not a mitigating factor, but a sign of how deeply disturbed gender relations in the culture are.

Male circ is not a method of controlling males and their sexuality. In nearly every culture that has ever existed (and one might argue that this is even more true of cultures that circumcise), males are dominant. FGM is alwaysalways—a method of controlling women and their sexuality. It is almost always mutilitory (rather than symbolic) and leads to widespread female urogenital problems. Despite what the foreskin-worshipers may say, male circumcision and FGM are in no way equivalent.

Go ahead and argue the ethics of male circ on their merits. There is a reasonable discussion to be had. But leave FGM out of it.

Comments

  1. #1 ml66uk
    November 12, 2008

    It’s generally not men, but circumcised women who are the most vociferous proponents of female circumcision. There are intelligent, educated, articulate women who will passionately defend it, and as well as using the same reasons that are used to defend male circumcision in the US, they will also point to male circumcision itself, as well as labiaplasty and breast operations, as evidence of western hypocrisy regarding female circumcision.

    Female and male circumcision are more comparable than some people think. Firstly, in countries where female circumcision is done under unhygienic conditions, male circumcision is too (broken glass, no anaesthesia, etc). Many boys die each year in Africa from tribal circumcisions – twenty young men died this year in just one province of South Africa. In some countries though female circumcision only involves the removal of the clitoral hood – the anatomical equivalent of the foreskin – and is done to babies in sterile conditions, even with pain relief. Check out how it’s done in Egypt, Malysia or Brunei, for example. Circumcised women choose to have their daughters circumcised, citing how it’s cleaner, good sexually, reduces secretions and smegma and is generally hygienic, and also mentioning studies showing circumcised women have lower infection rates. Basically the same reasons that people use to defend male circumcision. It’s just a cultural difference.

    Are you aware that the USA also used to practise female circumcision? It was never anywhere near as popular as male circumcision, but there are middle-aged white US American women walking round today with no clitoris because it was removed. Some of them don’t even realise what has been done to them. There are frequent references to the practice in medical literature up until the 1950’s. Most of them point out the similarity with male circumcision, and suggest that it should be performed for the same reasons. Blue Cross/Blue Shield covered clitoridectomy till 1977.

    One victim wrote a book about it:
    Robinett, Patricia (2006). The rape of innocence: One woman’s story of female genital mutilation in the USA.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to talk about female circumcision without talking about male circumcision. Even if you see a fundamental difference, the countries and cultures that practise female circumcision don’t, and I don’t see how female circumcision can be stopped while male circumcision is still tolerated.

    It’s worth remembering that we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if it weren’t for the fact that 19th century doctors thought that :
    a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tubercolosis etc), and
    b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

    Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but if you don’t believe me, then check out this link:
    A Short History of Circumcision in North America In the Physicians’ Own Words

    Over a hundred years later, circumcised men keep looking for new ways to defend the practice.

  2. #2 Colugo
    November 12, 2008

    Thank you. Every time I’ve said a peep about why male circumcision is not, in fact, a crime against humanity nor equivalent to FGM the foreskin jihadists come out in force. They come in different flavors: holistic-minded Euros who are also against fluoridation and pasteurization, psychically wounded libertoids and lefties who fantasize about hunting down their mohels, drum circle types who name themselves after animals. Next they’ll lobby to have a foreskin atrocity monument erected in Washington DC.

  3. #3 PalMD
    November 12, 2008

    Next they’ll lobby to have a foreskin atrocity monument erected in Washington DC.

    It’s already there.

  4. #4 llewelly
    November 12, 2008

    From my reading of this post and many others, there are basically those who don’t feel very strongly about it, and those who think it is the equivalent of female genital mutilation, or worse.

    You quoted 3 items. Only one of the 3 made that assertion. Do you have any evidence that it is representative?

  5. #5 PalMD
    November 12, 2008

    These were representative quotes from one of many boards. I don’t think that it’s necessary to dig through every online discussion of circumcision to make a point here. We’re not talking about the NNT for beta blockers and chf deaths.

  6. #6 Christina
    November 12, 2008

    PalMD, Thank you for writing this. It’s going to bring the nuts out of the woodwork but still, it needs to be said–apparently over and over and over again. Speaking of nuts…

    ml66uk–Bull. Removing the clitoris is not akin to removing the foreskin–it is akin to removing the penis entirely. How can that be “better sexually”? Further, vaginal secretions don’t come from the clitoris–they come from the vagina, hence the term “vaginal secretions”. It reduces nothing. Colonized minds justifying what was done to them and further perpetrating it upon their daughters do not convince anyone but those who wish to be convinced. FGM is about making their daughters “marriageable” by ensuring that they remain virginal–no sexual pleasure possible, no need to worry about them having sex, is the thought process. It’s about property protection, nothing more, nothing less. As for the horrible medical issues that result from this, there are others here who will fill you in on those.

    I chose not to circumcise my son. I felt that the risk of an accident occurring was not worth the reduction of risk of penile cancer (a very small percentage) or the reduction of risk of HIV/AIDS (uncircumcised males get the disease more readily than circumcised males but the difference drops to zero with the use of condom and since I intend to teach him to use those, no big deal.) The only reason circumcision might be considered “cleaner” is that without being fastidious about cleanliness (and name a 7yr old boy who is), he tends to get yeast infections. If he remains careless when older, those yeast infections can be transmitted to his sexual partner. I doubt he will be that way when he is older. Therefore, it wasn’t worth it.

    So, despite agreeing with you that male circumcision is not worth the risk–I see no reason to put an infant through what is, at the end of the day, an elective surgery for aesthetic reasons and that’s all it is–I do not make the mistake of equating the wholesale mutilation of girls’ and women’s genitalia in a concerted effort to make sure *it doesn’t ever work at all* with a basically harmless procedure that leaves the penis intact and working just fine when all goes well.

    There’s the difference, right there. If male circumcision goes properly, the penis is intact and functional. If female genital mutilation goes properly, the clitoris is removed and never functions at all. See it?

  7. #7 Joe
    November 12, 2008

    There’s the difference, right there. If male circumcision goes properly, the penis is intact and functional. If female genital mutilation goes properly, the clitoris is removed and never functions at all. See it?

    Christina – I call bullsh*t. There are at least four different types of FGM you can read about them here.

    So please explain to me the difference between I Ritual circumcision, II Sunna, and male circumcision. Specifically, how is the damage caused by one of those two procedures not identical, or in the case of Type I, less than the damage caused by male circumcision?

  8. #8 Akheloios
    November 12, 2008

    Couldn’t we agree that BOTH forms of genital mutilation are barbaric? Yes, the results of FGM are more extreme than on a male, but both are surgical mutilations of a child. Can you see it? Both are surgical mutilations…

    Female circumcision can leave the victim vulnerable to serious infection. It’s used as a means to control female sexuality, and is often performed by female family members who live in a highly patriarchal society.

    Male circumcision leaves the glans vulnerable and often reduces sensation. It’s popularity in the US is a direct result of trying to control male sexuality in the 1900s. In regards to a supposed reduction of risk to STDs, the most recent studies have found no reduction, which means there is no medical benefit to the surgery. It, like FGM, is a relic of patriarchal social structures badly designed for the modern civilised age.

    It’s time both barbaric mutilations were criminalised.

  9. #9 bilbo
    November 12, 2008

    This is an activist issue. Like any activist issue, every time the topic appears on the internet, it results in a disproportionate number of responses advocating one viewpoint (i.e. the one being pushed by activists).

    Hopefully, most people realize that blog comments don’t necessarily represent the medical or scientific consensus (especially when they are not supported with citations).

  10. #10 DK
    November 12, 2008

    Male circ is not a method of controlling males and their sexuality. In nearly every culture that has ever existed (and one might argue that this is even more true of cultures that circumcise), males are dominant.

    You are building a straw man argument. No one said male circumcision was being employed to achieve an egalitarian culture. In fact, just the opposite is the case in traditional circumcising cultures.

    FGM is not usually as “simple” as a pinprick.

    Neither is male circ. And you are not recognizing that there are varying degrees of MGM, ignoring the most radical forms, such as subincision.

  11. #11 Joe
    November 12, 2008

    Bilbo – You speak of it as if it is a bad thing. Many positive changes that were brought about in our society started out as grass roots activists issues. This is no different.

  12. #12 Joe
    November 12, 2008

    I am not the “Joe” writing above, and I do not approve of his message.

  13. #13 skepdude
    November 12, 2008

    I think that both male and female circumcisions are useless, unnecessary procedures. The evidence is very scant that male circumcision does anything medically. Yes yes, I know that it may reduce infection rates, it may help with HIV infection, but as of yet I don’t think that the medical literature supports those ideas, just like Harriet Halls entry points out.

    I don’t think anyone can even try to make that claim for female circumcision. I don’t know of anything that even hints at a correlation between FGM and any good health outcomes.

    That’s the evidence side.Then you have to worry about the moral side of this issue. Is it moral to take away a part of the baby’s body, at a time when the baby is not capable of making that decision for themselves? To answer that, at the very least you need to know the motive behind the action. Is it done in the name of religion? In the name of social acceptance? For aesthetics?

    Those are the questions to think about. I don’t pretend to be able to answer them in any satisfactory matter. As far as I am concerned, until there is credible evidence that male circumcision can be beneficial for the person, I oppose it on moral grounds. And the same goes for female circumcision.

  14. #14 Anonymous
    November 12, 2008

    “a strange thread of phallus-worship running through this discussion”. Uh, no, the phallus is a transient symbolic power, whereas the penis is a real organ. Denialist, get your phallus straight.

    And has to have been said by a guy with the less-than-remarkable-sexual-skills, and even less awareness of male sexuality that a blunt tipped cock and its proponents can bring on

    *”it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences”*.

    I mean, how does a blunt cock define “normal” sexual consequences? The oft heard complaint of men who only last for two minutes in a vagina should in the very least qualify as a consequence; and that effect brought on by men whose penises are clipped, and blunted–as it is well known that scar tissue can block, or heighten sensation.

    In the very least, an un-clipped dick provides a man with the most primal sensory similarity to women, which is that the foreskin– prepupice–, can hold smegma, and also be odorous. Odor is primary in several aspects to emotional attachments, and emotional detachment in women to themselves, and their view of themselves, and I would argue men as well, because a woman’s odors are indicative of health/unhealth; fertility; infertility; having had sex/not had sex, etc.

    FeminiSS and their appeaserSS have long decried the so-called male conceived use of FGM as a tool of control, but fail on one remarkably salient point: women have been advised to forego the allegedly male practice of deriding them as “stinky; dirty; filthy” but refuse to acknowledge that the penis–and circumcising it–is primarily to control disease that could affect a woman via penile insertion.Men here take second seat.

    As if it is difficult to teach little boys who will become men to be “clean”: gee whizz, we might just raise a bunch of gay guys, or worse, men who focus on their own sexual pleasure before they *ketou to the AMA’s religious dictum to keep the penis strictly procreative.*

    For all of those limp dicked 2 minute men out there who do not have the benefit of a foreskin, it is important to note–even if well paid denialist doctors don’t–that the foreskin (and I can only speak for myself, really) is chock full-o’ sensitive nerves and such that enhance sexual pleasure, and that the unclipped dick has the capability to feel different feelings than the clipped cock( without elaborating, because ppl like PalMd, et al up there think male sexual responses are gross, icky, and strictly regulated by terms like “medical consequence,” and secondary to female sexual or medical responses).

    If two minute men and late age male inability to perform aren’t enough reasons, I don’t know what are. But maybe the good MD has some $Viagr$ to pimp you with.

    Whether or not you get it, and sidestepping your kinds usual male bashing or male diminishing attitude which cries “yuck! Men are gross,men are pigs, women rulle,” etc., the foreskin ( and really, what do you know about them anyways–you don’t have one) is really there for a reason, just like labia majora.

  15. #15 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 12, 2008

    OOps. That comment above is mine, but thank you anyways for your anonymous comment policy! The web: the last holdout for freedom of thought.

  16. #16 PalMD
    November 12, 2008

    Yes. You are free to express your extraordinarily odd and penis-obsessed thoughts.

  17. #17 Anonymous
    November 12, 2008

    I’m 61 years old and I’ve worked in health care (Army Medic, RN, Lab Tech, health care management) since I was 19 years old. These circumcised or not issues are brand new to me, is it REALLY that big an issue? I’ve never seen any patient with any kind of angst related to this!

  18. #18 PalMD
    November 12, 2008

    Me either…unless you have way to much “time” on your hands to think about your member.

  19. #19 Chad
    November 12, 2008

    Here’s my argument for male circumcision: foreskins look gross. I hope I have boys in the future so I can make ‘em look like daddy and keep the tradition going.

    Let the insults begin!

  20. #20 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 12, 2008

    Pal: “extraordinarily odd and penis-obsessed thoughts.” I hope you were joking, but if you aren’t:

    *Yeah, and you are the guy who jerks off after watching yet another V-day episode of the oh-so-normal and not obsessed, healthy discussions contained in the “Vagina Monologues”; or watches football while discussing “point spreads”.*

    Ever notice how the clipped-dicks always judge male sexual thought on male topics, and male sexuality as “obsessed”, or at the very least “percerted”, while giving a free pass to all discussion of female sexuality? Repression and oppression in action.

  21. #21 Rogue Epidemiologist
    November 12, 2008

    I’m waiting for the trimmed men to come defend their wedding tackle. Pass the popcorn…

  22. #22 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 12, 2008

    correction:

    … always judge male sexual thought on male topics, and male sexuality as “obsessed”, or at the very least *”perverted”*, while giving a free pass to all discussion of female sexuality? Repression and oppression in action.The stifling of dissenting fact based opinions, without addressing the substance of the argument.

  23. #23 Rogue Epidemiologist
    November 12, 2008

    Re: What the 61-yr-old Anonymous said

    The zealots about this issue are a small, but vocal contingent. They have about as much zeal as the mercury militia.

    The fortunate thing is that modification/mutilation of the foreskin does not have the public health ramifications as all this psychopolitical masturbation about circumcision.

    So let them go nuts for all I care. I don’t really have an opinion either way right now. But I sure enjoy the entertainment.

  24. #24 Baratos
    November 12, 2008

    At the very least they could wait until you are old enough to say no before cutting off your foreskin.

  25. #25 Rogue Epidemiologist
    November 12, 2008

    Y’know, what I meant to say was that the circ debate isn’t going to have the sort of public health impact that diminished vaccinations would have. So let them keep debating because it is a legit debate. Vaccination, however, should go on of course.

    I really don’t have an opinion. I just just have an opinion of people who present any opinion with inflamed rhetoric.

  26. #26 DVMKurmes
    November 12, 2008

    As a veterinarian, I don’t have to deal with this issue at all, but it is interesting that I almost never have anyone object to spaying their female dog, but I do have occasional clients who will refuse to have their male dog neutered. These are not people who want to breed their male dogs, they just think castrating a male dog is “cruel” while they do not blink at a more painful and invasive spay on their female dog. I have no intention of asking what these people think about circumcision, but it makes me wonder if I am seeing another facet of the same piece of society that is horrified by male circumcision. There is not really any way to predict who these clients are-I have had people of both sexes and mutiple races/economic classes object to neutering in this way.

  27. #27 Anonymous
    November 12, 2008

    I find the tribal tradition to remove a piece of a man’s anatomy, basically make him less of a man, to indicate he is now an adult man to be an odd irony.

  28. #28 PalMD
    November 12, 2008

    Do you really think circumcision makes a man “less of a man”?

  29. #29 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    I think that is besides the point, this is mostly an ethical issue.

    I have changed my handle so as not to worry the other Joe who didn’t approve my previous post.

  30. #30 Katharine
    November 12, 2008

    FGM is FAR more mutilatory than male circumcision.

    Anyone who, like me, knows their neuroscience and their developmental biology knows that, among the various homologous parts, the glans and clitoris are homologous. Cutting off a clitoris is like cutting off the bell end of a penis.

  31. #31 Katharine
    November 12, 2008

    If you want to make an analogy, FGM is bobbittizing .

  32. #32 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 12, 2008

    Katharine: so would you say that circumcising foreskin is akin to cutting of those useless and unsightly labia majora? After all, some FGM proponents suggest that is the actual goal of FGM.

    BTW, how many nerve endings are mutilated when a boy undergoes circumcision?

  33. #33 Anonymous
    November 12, 2008

    Dude, don’t you have anything better to worry about besides your poor little cock?

    How empty is your life that circumcision is your obsession?

  34. #34 bioephemera
    November 12, 2008

    Thanks for this post, PalMD.

    The fact that female circumcision is intended to have a more extreme outcome doesn’t make male circumcision in any way desirable. But the two are simply not medically analogous procedures.

    However vocally some circumcised men may regret their circumcision, I presume most of them have a functioning penis and enjoy sex. Female circumcision (as often practiced) is intended to terminate female sexual enjoyment. Let me say that again: terminate it.

    Don’t say your circumcised penis is just as bad as a mangled/removed clitoris – unless your penis gives you no pleasure at all. To say so is just plain insulting to women.

  35. #35 Anonymous
    November 12, 2008

    I’m rather amused how ml66uk, without the slightest hint of acknowledgement or recognition, immediately repeated a number of the FGM-minimizing arguments PalMD quoted in the post.

    Check out how it’s done in Egypt

    According to Wikipedia, Egypt banned FGM in 2007, after a 12 year old girl died (from an overdose of anesthesia in an illegal clinic).

    I can’t (within a minute or two of cursory searching) find frequency estimates for the various kinds of female genial mutilation or male circumcision. (it’s pretty obvious that almost nobody discussing circumcision as popularly understood is including subincision, which appears (again, very cursory search) mostly to be/have been associated with certain Australian Aboriginal cultures. ) Certainly the overwhelmingly vast majority of male circumcisions, all else aside, would seem not only to be performed quite hygienically, but to be of a very mild variety – my impression is that there’s not even a clear consensus on whether or not there’s any significant effect on sexual satisfaction and function? or is that not the case? With female genital mutilation, on the other hand, the opposite seems to hold true (good data, anyone?). While it’s obviously tragic that children are dying from unhygienic procedures and that needs to be stopped, cases where young girls are or could have their genitals mutilated, sliced away, etc, in a manner that destroys much of their capacity

  36. #36 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    It isn’t just circumcised men who draw the parallels. Perhaps some of you have heard of Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, one of the earliest whistle blowers of FGM, it’s interesting to see what she has to say on this subject.

  37. #37 digital dumb dumb
    November 12, 2008

    I realize the two issues are in no way analogous, but the tact, tone and nature of the arguments used in the circumcision debate seem to mirror those used in the vaccine/mercury “controversy”. Maybe it’s just my imagination….

  38. #38 Dan S.
    November 12, 2008

    sorry, hit post by mistake trying to edit:

    While it’s obviously tragic that children are dying from unhygienic procedures and that needs to be stopped, cases where young girls are or could have their genitals mutilated, sliced away, etc, in a hygienic manner that nevertheless destroys much or all of their capacity to experience sexual pleasure and may cause other serious medical problems – well, that doesn’t actually sound like much of a good thing. Now, if the vast majority of cases of female genital mutilation are a) performed in a safe and hygienic manner and result in either rather mild or no loss of pleasure and sensation, with quite rare complications (ie, if the world is other than it is), well, then the foreskin brigade would seem to have a fair comparison on their hands. But, of course . . .

    Frankly, the survivors of male circumcision or whatever they call themselves always seem a bit . . . snippy to me.

  39. #39 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    digital dumb dumb – This is quite far from the vaccine/mercury “controversy”. If nothing else it is clear that vaccines are a medically therapeutic intervention, circumcision is not.

  40. #40 KristinMH
    November 12, 2008

    Llewelly way at the top said, “You quoted 3 items. Only one of the 3 made that assertion. Do you have any evidence that it is representative?”

    Dude, there were over a hundred comments, making the same point – “You think FGM is wrong, so you have to think male circumcision is wrong! Your a feminazi!”

    I personally contributed by posting a link to a loldog:

    http://ihasahotdog.com/2008/06/21/funny-dog-pictures-you-are-infatuated-with-your-weiner/

    and getting yelled at.

    DVMKurnes, I’ve run across that with other dog owners, and I don’t get it either. An unneutered dog is in danger not only of siring unwanted puppies, but of getting hit by a car while pursuing a female in heat or of being injured by other male dogs fighting over her. They also tend to be more aggressive and unpredictable. The surgery is, like you said, minor compared to spaying, not even requiring an overnight stay. Yet otherwise thoughtful and loving pet owners will hesitate and agonize about it. What is wrong with people?

  41. #41 KristinMH
    November 12, 2008

    Oh, Thoughtful Joe: I believe Harriet did outline the modest medical benefits that accompany male circumcision. They are pretty modest, but they do exist.

    But why would you believe her? She’s just a willing tool of the medical-industrial complex.

  42. #42 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    Oh, Thoughtful Joe: I believe Harriet did outline the modest medical benefits that accompany male circumcision. They are pretty modest, but they do exist.

    I am aware of the claims and modest is a bit of an understatement.

    A common error made by those who want to justify infant male circumcision on the basis of medical benefits is that they believe that as long as some such benefits are present, circumcision can be justified as therapeutic, in the sense of preventive health care. This is not correct. A medical-benefits or “therapeutic” justification requires that overall the medical benefits should outweigh the risks and harms of the procedure required to obtain them, that this procedure is the only reasonable way to obtain these benefits, and that these benefits are necessary to the well-being of the child. None of these conditions is fulfilled for routine infant male circumcision. — Somerville, Margaret A. The Ethical Canary Science, Society and the Human Spirit, Viking/Penguin Canada, Toronto, hardcover, 344 pages (chapter 8, pp. 202-219)

    But why would you believe her? She’s just a willing tool of the medical-industrial complex.

    Please point out where I made that charge.

  43. #43 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    I am aware of the claims and modest is a bit of an understatement overstatement.

  44. #44 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 12, 2008

    Anonymous said : “Dude, don’t you have anything better to worry about besides your poor little cock? How empty is your life that circumcision is your obsession?”

    Fascinating how ad-hom Anon seems fascinated with the cocks of others, but contributes zilch to the discussion.I almost suspect Anon is actually PalMd.

    For the record, there is nothing “poor” or “little” about my penis-except that it is indeed a public football for those who seem to feel that the cutting of young male genitals is a necessary procedure.

    Also, Bruno Bettleheim was one of the early ppl on the record comparing male genital mutilation( the cutting or splicing of the penis in some aboriginal and west african cultures) to female genital mutilation -but like so many others he erred in thinking that men did it to men because of men, when in fact it is not so simple.

    Also like so many others, he neglected to grasp the significance of all of the other interesting rituals of the ‘third world’ observables: women who stick hot rocks full of hot spice into the vaginas of young pubertal girls after filling them with beer, or the ‘massaging’ of the the labia to ‘stretch them into penis lengths’ of pubertal girls; rituals that seem to be ok with the FGM opponents.

    That said, Anonymous is probably in its closet right now, with primal ethnographic imagery running through its head.

    BTW, what does a dose of MD prescribed Viagra cost for all of those erectily dysfunctional clipped men? How much does the good Doc get to tag on to the insurance bill every time they cut an infants penis? I am guesing something like a quick $250 for the initial, plus ‘aftercare’. Good job guys and gals-easy money-but I work for mine.

  45. #45 KristinMH
    November 12, 2008

    That was a bit of comical hyperbole, meant to point out the similarity between anti-circumcision and other denialist arguments.

    Harriet’s whole freakin’ post – if you care to read it – basically makes the point that there are some minor medical benefits to circumcision and some valid ethical arguments against it. That’s it. Don’t drag Margaret Somerville into it. She is a very questionable authority to make an argument from.

  46. #46 KristinMH
    November 12, 2008

    Should have included a reference – my previous comment was directed at Thoughtful Joe.

  47. #47 Frasque
    November 12, 2008

    It’s easy to point and laugh at the more frothing of activists, but the actual psychological pain – justified or not – of these guys shouldn’t be laughed at. Having a body part removed for no good reason sounds like a legitimate cause for being upset.

  48. #48 KristinMH
    November 12, 2008

    Frasque, my mother has only nine toes. The middle toe on her left foot had to be removed due to a bungled operation to correct a hammertoe. Should she be leading a crusade against orthopedic surgery? No, because even though every time she wears sandals people can see that she’s missing a part of her body, it doesn’t really matter all that much. Many of us are missing small and non-functional parts of our bodies, but no one else is making a big deal about it.

    The real argument against circumcision, as far as I can tell, is that the benefits it provides are pretty small and the procedure is not without risks. That’s a pretty valid argument. No need to compare it to genocide or FGM – it’s not the same class of thing.

  49. #49 PalMD
    November 12, 2008

    AFAIK there is no convincing literature that circumcision is actually a significant cause of psychic trauma later in life.

    BTW, what does a dose of MD prescribed Viagra cost for all of those erectily dysfunctional clipped men? How much does the good Doc get to tag on to the insurance bill every time they cut an infants penis? I am guesing something like a quick $250 for the initial, plus ‘aftercare’. Good job guys and gals-easy money-but I work for mine.

    Here’s where you see the real thinking—conspiracies everywhere. First of all, viagra and circumcision are unrelated, as are ED and circumcision. Second, there is no “circumcision industrial complex”

  50. #50 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    KristinMH Said:

    Harriet’s whole freakin’ post – if you care to read it – basically makes the point that there are some minor medical benefits to circumcision and some valid ethical arguments against it.

    I read her whole post and left comments. So what’s your point? My point is simple, unless there is a clearly defined therapeutic need, circumcision is unethical.

    KristinMH Said:
    Don’t drag Margaret Somerville into it. She is a very questionable authority to make an argument from.

    Fine, how about the British Medical Association? The law & ethics of male circumcision, June 2006.

    Unnecessarily invasive procedures should not be used where alternative, less invasive techniques, are equally efficient and available. It is important that doctors keep up to date and ensure that any decisions to undertake an invasive procedure are based on the best available evidence. Therefore, to circumcise for therapeutic [or non-therapeutic] reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.

    KristinMH Said:

    That’s a pretty valid argument. No need to compare it to genocide [no one said that] or FGM – it’s not the same class of thing

    I believe when FGM is bounded to the less severe forms a comparison can be made. And I am not the only one.

  51. #51 KristinMH
    November 12, 2008

    Various posters pulled the genocide card in the original Science-Based Medicine post, Thoughtful Joe. I believe Godwin’s law had been violated by post number 3.

    Maybe if you could stop contemplating your penis for a moment you would stop and notice that I am basically agreeing with you.

  52. #52 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 12, 2008

    KristinMH Said:

    Maybe if you could stop contemplating your penis for a moment you would stop and notice that I am basically agreeing with you.

    Your position didn’t go unnoticed, but the first part of your sentence wasn’t necessary. I don’t think I’ve sniped at you so how about we keep it civil.

  53. #53 Azkyroth
    November 13, 2008

    It’s still amazing to me that this many people are defending a spectacular reversal of the usual medical ethics when it comes to one particular kind of completely unnecessary cosmetic operation, generally superficial but occasionally resulting in spectacular needless injuries from botched operations, being performed on a person incapable of giving informed consent.

    (Additionally, while the claim that FGM is far more destructive and should not be compared to male circumcision has merit, I don’t think it’s irrelevant that essentially identical arguments are advanced in favor of each procedure).

  54. #54 Paul Murray
    November 13, 2008

    > Male circ is not a method of controlling males and their sexuality

    Straight-up wrong. As was pointed out, it was used as a means of controling masturbation. All these jinds of things are done by the old to the young. Like war, really.

    And some people just don’t read:
    > @Christina: Removing the clitoris is not akin to removing the foreskin–it is akin to removing the penis entirely.
    When what was actually said was:
    > In some countries though female circumcision only involves the removal of the clitoral hood

    Sigh. It’s easy to suppose that removal of some of the folds of skin around the genitalia has no effect on hygiene when you come from a society with ample soap and clean running water.

    And finally:
    >Every time I’ve said a peep about why male circumcision is not, in fact, a crime against humanity nor equivalent to FGM the foreskin jihadists come out in force

    In response to a very moderate post, if a trifle long. I read ml66uk’s post, and the word “jihad” did not come to mind.

    Oh: and google “sausage penis”. I belive some australian aboriginies used to do it.

  55. #55 Dan S.
    November 13, 2008

    I believe when FGM is bounded to the less severe forms a comparison can be made. And I am not the only one.

    Did you read the page you linked to? Lightfoot-Klein is certainly not discussing only the the less severe forms there, but in fact including some of the most severe and damaging.

    Nor is it obvious to me what the point of this statement is. If you compare male circumcision as it occurs in the vast majority of cases (indeed, what basically everyone in the U.S. considers to be male circumcision) to the very mildest forms of FGM, no doubt there are comparisons to be made. Ok . . . so? We don’t live in a world where FGM is bounded to the “less severe forms”. That link seems to say more about human capacity for rationalization, folk beliefs, and pseudoscience than anything else: obviously one tries to determine relative harm or benefits of any such practices by looking at actual empirical data, etc.

    the actual psychological pain – justified or not – of these guys shouldn’t be laughed at. Having a body part removed for no good reason sounds like a legitimate cause for being upset.

    Yes, and if these guys actually had a body part – specifically, much or all of their penis – removed for no good reason when they were defenseless babies, they’d certainly have a very legitimate cause for being upset. As is, since we’re actually talking about removal of the foreskin . . . well, it’s understandable they they might not be thrilled, especially if they attribute current difficulties – perhaps rightly, in some cases, I dunno – to that procedure. But they don’t actually get to minimize the brutality of female genital mutilation to amplify their minor complaints. Of course, were they actually getting much of all of their penis hacked or scraped off (sometimes with additional damage to the genitals), they would be able to make a fair comparison, as that’s what’s happening in some of the major forms of female genital mutilation. The ones, remember, that fall in the moderate, medium, middle range, that is – I can’t even make up a meaningful male equivalent to the worst practices (infibulation, type III), which in some estimates account for 1 out of every 10 instances of FGM.

    .” rituals that seem to be ok with the FGM opponents.

    The latter practice – labial stretching – seems to be somewhat controversial: according to a 2008 World Health Organization interagency statement on eliminating
    Female genital mutilation
    [pdf], “Pain and laceration while pulling has been documented, but no long-term consequences have been found. The practice has been documented mainly in societies where women enjoy a relatively high social status, mostly in matrilineal societies . . .
    nevertheless
    . . . Labial stretching might be defined as a form of female genital mutilation
    because it is a social convention, and hence there is social pressure on young girls to modify their genitalia, and because it creates permanent genital
    changes.”

    There’s no specific discussion of ” hot rocks full of hot spice” (filled with beer, too? Seems like a bit of overkill to me) being shoved into young girls. They do mention
    “Introduction of harmful substances”: “
    A number of practices of this type have been
    found in several countries, with a large variety of reasons and potential health hazards. Generally, they are performed regularly by adult women on themselves to clean the vagina before or after sexual intercourse or to tighten and strengthen the vagina to enhance their own or their partner�s sexual pleasure. The consequences and health
    risks depend on the substances used, as well as the frequency and technicalities of the procedures . . . Insertion of harmful substances can be defined as a form of genital mutilation, particularly when associated with health risks and high social pressure.

    Given the range and uncertainty associated with this category, they emphasize that “The lack of clarity concerning Type IV should not curb the urgent need to eliminate the types of female genital mutilation that are most prominent and known�Types I−III�which have been performed on 100−140 million girls and women and risk being performed on more than 3 million girls every year.

    Also – what is wrong with you?

    Also, Bruno Bettleheim

    blamed autism on “refrigerator mothers”, and may have falsified some of his credentials.
    FWIW.

  56. #56 Dan S.
    November 13, 2008

    I belive some australian aboriginies used to do it.

    What is the relevance of this statement to the current discussion?

  57. #57 rachelpea
    November 13, 2008

    Effing thank you, PalMD.

  58. #58 Hugh7
    November 13, 2008

    We would not be having this discussion if circumcision were not already a majority procedure in the country that dominates the Internet, and most of its defenders were not themselves its objects (not the best word, but I knew I’d open another can of worms if I called them “victims” though that is how many, rightly in my view, think of themselves).

    Instead we might be having a quiet discussion about the extraordinary things that a minority of people have done to their bodies (like slitting their tongues or circumcision or tattooing their entire heads blue), and whether they are mentally healthy for doing so, and what are the limits of informed consent for self-harm?

    Or we might be having another about the terrible things that some primitive tribe over there does to its children, like tooth evulsion or genital cutting or cicatrization (scarring), and where does cultural relativism start and cultural imperialism stop?

    Instead we have people making the most extraordinary and illogical comparisons in defence of the indefensible, strapping a helpless, healthy baby down and cutting off the most sensitive part of his genitalia. Perhaps the most extraordinary and illogical is that it is somehow justified because some people in a far corner of the world do something that is physically more drastic and damaging to girls. The suggestion that these two operations are ethically comparable seems to send them into a panic. Let me ask those people: when genital cutting is minimal (the clitoral hood only, say), sterile and anaesthetised, is it then acceptable to do to baby girls, and should it be legal? (In many jurisdictions including mine, any cutting at all even of informedly consenting adult women is illegal, and religion and culture are explicitly not excuses.)

    One clue that there is something very strange about male circumcision, is that the number and variety of reasons given for doing it is far in excess of what rationality requires (see the Intactivism Pages), and when one reason fails, its defenders are always able to fall back on another.

  59. #59 Paul Murray
    November 13, 2008

    “What is the relevance of this statement to the current discussion?”

    Weren’t we discussing genital mutilation, when it’s done as the result of cultural norms? Or are some cultures not to be dissed?

  60. #60 Anonymous
    November 13, 2008

    @the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom

    Arghhh. Idiot! LEARN BASIC BIOLOGY!

    Male circumcision = cutting off various percentages of the foreskin. Either just a bit or a lot or anything in between.
    male foreskin = female hood.
    clitoris = glans (a.k.a. the head of the penis)

    labia majora is closer to the scrotum skin than the foreskin.

    Also, all men are not created equal. Some people naturally only have a little foreskin that barely covers anything and looks cut when they’re erect, others have so much foreskin it easily covers the entire glans and more even when fully erect. Not insinuating that this makes male circumcision more right, am however insinuating that you can’t think that all circumcised people will have the same experiences when there are 1) different degrees of circumcision 2) different amounts of pre-existing foreskin.

    Someone who gets a dangerously huge amount of foreskin chopped off will likely feel an unpleasant amount of tightness when erect, and probably will experience problems, while as someone who only gets a bit of foreskin taken off probably even can masturbate himself with the remainder as if he were uncut (which a cut friend of mine easily can and usually does).

  61. #61 MH
    November 13, 2008

    Would the pro-circumcision people here be okay with parents in their country (I’m assuming the US) carrying out similar surgery on their daughters (i.e. the removal of the clitoral hood)?

    Or would you feel that such a procedure is wrong?

    If the thought of the ritual removal of clitoral hoods seems barbaric to you, then you will understand how the vast majority of the people in the World see circumcision.

    Still, there’s hope. Circumcision used to be normal in the UK for the first half of the 20th Century. Now it’s just practised by religious adherents with a desire for tribal identity.

  62. #62 tincture
    November 13, 2008

    Breaking an arm is not as bad as removing it entirely but neither should be done to somebody w/o informed consent. It’s a strange world we live in when some people are so adamant that breaking infant’s arms is hunky-dory.

  63. #63 chris y
    November 13, 2008

    Circumcision used to be normal in the UK for the first half of the 20th Century.

    Straight-up wrong. As was pointed out, it was used as a means of controling masturbation.

    The first of these is true. The second is either a complete fabrication, or else the intervention was startlingly unsuccessful. I was born in the UK in the first half half of the 20th century, and duly circumcised. I can masturbate perfectly well, thank you very much, and have done since puberty.

  64. #64 Sam C
    November 13, 2008

    What a bizarre discussion! Most posters seem to agree that it’s wrong to mutilate another person’s body without their informed and freely given consent, and clearly a baby or young child cannot give this consent. But it seems to be a cultural thing amongst the posters to want to put these things into absolute categories by comparing and contrasting.

    If someone cut my hair off while I was asleep, that would be an assault, but it’s clearly much less serious than if they drug me and cut my legs off!

    Male and female genital mutilation are not at those ends of the spectrum, but it’s clear what order of seriousness one would put these 4 possible assaults in, isn’t it?

  65. #65 Dunc
    November 13, 2008

    The second is either a complete fabrication, or else the intervention was startlingly unsuccessful.

    Most attempts to control people’s sexuality are startlingly unsuccessful, but it doesn’t seem to stop anyone. See also “education, abstinence-only”.

  66. #66 ml66uk
    November 13, 2008

    My comments don’t seem to be going through, including one from yesterday. I’m going to try posting shorter comments, but sorry if any of this appears twice.

    chris y: Non-religious male circumcision was indeed used as a means of controlling masturbation. See the end of the very first comment.

    Yes “anonymous”, I am fully aware that Egypt banned FGM in 2007, but everyone knows it’s carrying on, just like it did after the last time they banned it in 1997. The rate was estimated to be well above 90% last year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally against female circumcision, but I don’t see how we’re going to be able to stop it while male circumcision is still allowed. Even if you see a difference, the people that cut girls don’t. Try debating with a blogger from Malaysia or Egypt say that’s just had or is just about to have her daughter circumcised. Try telling her that there’s a fundamental difference between male and female circ, and see what she says.

  67. #67 ml66uk
    November 13, 2008

    (stuff that I tried to post yesterday)

    Removing the clitoris is indeed far worse than the standard form of male circumcision. Not all forms of female circumcision do this though, and some of them do far less damage than US-style circumcision. Even making a symbolic incision on a baby girl’s genitals without removing any tissue is illegal though, whereas it’s quite common for part of a baby boy’s penis to be cut off.

    Removal of the male prepuce is more of an issue than many people here seem to realise. The male foreskin isn’t just there to protect the glans – it’s easily the most sensitive part of the penis, and has more than twice as many nerve endings as the external clitoris. It has a function Christina, and I think people should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want it cut off.

    If my son wants to be circumcised when he’s 18 (16 if he knows what he’s doing), I’ll pay for it and help him find a good surgeon. Until then, he stays intact. His body – his decision. If he wants to be circumcised later, it’s easy to fix. At a later age, it hurts less, is less dangerous, and the results are cosmetically better. If we’d had him circumcised, and he wanted to be intact, it’s a problem. I sure as heck am glad that my father didn’t want mine cut off because he thought it looked “gross”. That’s one of the usual reasons given in defence of female circumcision btw – the people that do it think intact female genitalia are gross.

    Drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 14%
    UK: from 35% to about 3% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

  68. #68 ml66uk
    November 13, 2008

    I’ve been trying to post a bunch of other links, but the posts aren’t going through, so here’s just one:

    Canadian Children’s Rights Council
    “It is the position of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council that “circumcision” of male or female children is genital mutilation of children.

    The Canadian Children’s Rights Council position is that there is no medical benefit to the routine genital mutilation (circumcision) of any children (defined by U.N. as those under 18 years of age). Further, all Canadian children, both male and female, should be protected by the criminal laws of Canada with regards to this aggravated assault. Currently, the protection provided by the Criminal Code of Canada includes only genital mutilation (circumcision) of female children.”

  69. #69 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 13, 2008

    Dan S. Said:

    Did you read the page you linked to? Lightfoot-Klein is certainly not discussing only the the less severe forms there, but in fact including some of the most severe and damaging.

    Of course I read it and she is demonstrating how parallel attitudes and the same BS rhetoric allow both practices to continue.

    Dan S. Said:

    Nor is it obvious to me what the point of this statement is. If you compare male circumcision as it occurs in the vast majority of cases (indeed, what basically everyone in the U.S. considers to be male circumcision) to the very mildest forms of FGM, no doubt there are comparisons to be made. Ok . . . so? We don’t live in a world where FGM is bounded to the “less severe forms”…

    Ok so then there are forms of FGM that are less than or equal to male circumcision in terms of how invasive they are. Even if they aren’t typically practiced, that point is not really relevant. The question is why do we criminalize all forms of FGM and turn a blind eye to circumcision.

    I agree that all forms of FGM should be illegal; however, I also believe that boys deserve the same respect for their bodies that girls are given. I find it hard to believe that is such an unimaginable concept for most people.

    Dan S. Said:
    “the actual psychological pain – justified or not – of these guys shouldn’t be laughed at. Having a body part removed for no good reason sounds like a legitimate cause for being upset.”

    Yes, and if these guys actually had a body part – … – I can’t even make up a meaningful male equivalent to the worst practices (infibulation, type III), which in some estimates account for 1 out of every 10 instances of FGM.

    And there are guys who have suffered that fate. Even if it is very rare what do you tell them? “Sorry dude your parents where going for you know that decorative effect, there was no rational reason to do it, but these things happen.” And how often should that be allowed to happen under those circumstances? That is a medically unnecessary surgery which carries risks but no significant benefits and performed without the inform consent of the individual.

  70. #70 European
    November 13, 2008

    You teach us interesting things about American:
    – human rights:
    Human himself has control over his/her own body. It is not up to a doctor to declare that male circumcision is small enough not to matter. Circumcision – yes, but only in consentious adult.
    – hygiene:
    We in Europe generally wash ourselves. Infection is not a problem then. Do you know things like “soap” and “shower every morning”?
    – scientific study:
    Funny to compare male circumcision in American clinic to female circumcision in unhyygienic African conditions.
    – political correctness:
    Being agains female circumcision is OK, but against male it is “phallus fetish”. Would you dare to write about “vagina fetish” in PC environment?

  71. #71 Dan S.
    November 13, 2008

    Weren’t we discussing genital mutilation, when it’s done as the result of cultural norms? Or are some cultures not to be dissed?

    It’s not just that even if practiced by all male Aboriginal Australian, we’re still talking about ~ 1% of Australia’s population (which doesn’t affect the ethics of the thing itself), nor that it’s not even clear that it (subincision and similar procedures) hasn’t dwindled or even vanished (for all I can tell from a very brief search) among the specific AA groups that traditionally practiced them. It’s that the anti-male circumcision crusaders, far from leading a campaign to protect any Aboriginal Australian boys currently at risk from genuine genital mutilation, seem instead fixated by the far different (and apparently far milder) “western” circumcision. Again, and I’m actually asking, since I might have missed some sub-point, what relevance do you feel this has to the actual debate here? Or are you just floating a point of abstract academic interest?

    —–

    Perhaps the most extraordinary and illogical is that it is somehow justified because some people in a far corner of the world do something that is physically more drastic and damaging to girls.

    That be a pretty bizarre and illogical thing to claim. Of course, nobody’s actually saying such a thing. (for values of “nobody” {less than} 0.1%). Rather – well, let’s look at the next sentence:

    The suggestion that these two operations are ethically comparable seems to send them into a panic.

    Again, no. What you’re actually seeing – while I’m sure there’s some cases of just unhappy resistance to any questioning – is generally appalled disgust. Remember, nobody is saying that the (rather mild, but certainly questionable) widespread form of male circumcision at issue is justified because many people mutilate the genitals of young girls. Rather, it’s that we find lots of folks – with a fairly decent (if generally judged much less ethically pressing) argument – seeming to go out of their way to minimize the often extremely damaging practice of FGM, all for a cheap rhetorical payoff.

    I’m not saying that certain comparisons, up to a point, don’t have a defensible role to play in prodding people to examine taken-for-granted assumptions. But damn, it’s hard to overstate how wildly unsympathetic you guys are making yourself to any of us who have even the slightest concern about FGM. The (imperfect) analogy that comes to mind is the backlash from PETA’s comparison of factory farming to the Holocaust – except to line up better, we’d have to be talking about a world where the vast majority of animals (basicaly all) eaten* by the folks being targeted are in fact raised under imperfect but comparatively quite mild conditions, the Holocaust was still happening, and animal rights activists kept going on and on about how hey, bullsh*t, , didn’t you know that some concentration camps aren’t really all that bad – ok, forced labor, but look at the poor chickens!, and now I demand you explain to me the difference between Vernichtungslager, Konzentrationslager, and Arbeitslager! –

    Ok, that overshoots a little, but seriously. Get a grip.

    No, somewhere else, please.

    * you know you’ve been reading to much lolcat when . . . you at first type “eated” in a discussion about FGM.

  72. #72 Frank OHara
    November 13, 2008

    I find it telling that the name of this blog is “Denialism Blog” when that is exactly what is going on here. I also find it disturbing that it is written by a proclaimed “medical student.” The ignorance of the issue is telling.

    There is the usual claim that male and female circumcision have no correlations but this is certainly not true. The first incorrect assumption is that the glans clitoris and the glans penis are identical structures in both form and function only having a difference in size. This is certainly not true.

    Granted, they both spring from the genital tubercle which is identical up to about 8 weeks gestation but from that point on, they follow different paths of development and have different functions.

    In the female, the glans clitoris develops into primarily a tactile sensory organ and in the male, it develops into a pressure receptor. The pressure receptor in the female is the G-Spot. Casual observation will substantiate this. During coitus, the pressure sensory organs of both are in contact.

    The tactile sensory organ in the male is the frenulum. As in female circumcision, this is removed/disabled during circumcision.

    The female has the vaginal sphincter as a stretch receptor organ. In the male, this stretch receptor is in the frenulum and the preputial sphincter both of which are removed during circumcision.

    Likewise, male circumcision removes the protection from the penis that the labia provide to the clitoris. That protection keeps both organs protected from abrasive assault and keeps both moist and sensitive.

    Legitimately comparing the two, male circumcision is the removal of the functional equivalent of the female clitoris, the clitoral hood, the labia majora and labia minora and the vaginal sphincter. This is based on function, not physical appearance.

    Denialists will assert that male circumcision is a sum zero procedure or even that it has benefits to the man. That is certainly not true. Research (E.O. Laumann, 1998 and C.B. Bleustein) shows that circumcised men reach impotency years before men who are not circumcised. Anecdotal evidence supports this research. American men consume 54% of the world’s production of Viagra. Malaysian men (Muslim and circumcised) are the world’s highest per capita consumers of Viagra type products and Israel (Jewish and circumcised) is the world’s leading counterfeiter of Viagra.

    Additionally, male circumcision has been implicated in female arousal disorder, a disorder that can render post menopausal women unable to engage in sexual intercourse due to the pain associated with penetration.

    Male circumcision has also been shown to be associated with premature ejaculation, certainly the bain of many men. Premature ejaculation is strongly assocated with circumcision. The mechanics of this effect is a tight skin sleeve in men that holds the penile shaft against the prostate gland and with the undulations of sexual intercourse over stimulating the prostate to ejaculation before its time.

    Denialists also assert that female circumcision completely removes the capacity to enjoy sex. Research by Hanny Lightfoot-Klein says differently. She found that circumcised women fully enjoy sex and actually have orgasms: http://www.fgmnetwork.org/authors/Lightfoot-klein/sexualexperience.htm

    If female circumcision did in fact completely remove the woman’s capacity to enjoy sex, the women would become extremely resistant to sexual intercourse. The birth rate in areas that practice female circumcision refutes this.

    It is also false information that female circumcision is male driven. Women in the areas that practice female circumcision overwhelmingly support it by as much as 90%. Indeed, women who immigrate to America and other western nations and are no longer under any pressure to submit themselves or their daughters to the procedure but yet they demand that it be done. Search for “The Seattle Compromise” to see this. It is also common for women to take their daughters back to their home countries to get them circumcised since female circumcision is a felony in all western countries.

    The common perception among westerners is that the typical female circumcision is performed by a dusty road with rusty metal or a piece of broken glass by a grizzled old man. The reality is far different. Most female circumcisions are performed in storefront clinical settings by practiced midwife type women. The perception is that male circumcisions are always performed in clinical settings but again, this is just a perception. Tribal male circumcisions in Africa are done in initiation camps or so called circumcision camps. This is the exact same as the perception of female circumcisions and every year, 40 to 100 boys die as a result of these “bush” circumcisions with 150 or more losing their penises and hundreds being hospitalized. The problem has become so prevalent that the Government of South Africa has banned circumcision.

    Americans certainly are in denial. Most likely that is because there are so many guilty parties.

  73. #73 Dan S.
    November 13, 2008

    “to” should be “too” in my comment above, for a start.

    If female circumcision did in fact completely remove the woman’s capacity to enjoy sex, the women would become extremely resistant to sexual intercourse. The birth rate in areas that practice female circumcision refutes this.

    Frank, you do understand why this isn’t the best argument, right?

    If someone cut my hair off while I was asleep, that would be an assault, but it’s clearly much less serious than if they drug me and cut my legs off!

    Very well put, Sam C.

    Try debating with a blogger from Malaysia or Egypt say that’s just had or is just about to have her daughter circumcised. Try telling her that there’s a fundamental difference between male and female circ

    I think I’m getting a (very faint) taste of what that might be like . . .

    I can masturbate perfectly well, thank you very much, and have done since puberty.

    Ah, the internet : )

    And there are guys who have suffered that fate. Even if it is very rare what do you tell them? . . .And how often should that be allowed to happen under those circumstances? That is a medically unnecessary surgery which carries risks but no significant benefits and performed without the inform consent of the individual.

    Now there, Thoughtful Joe, you’re living up to your name. (My impression is that it’s still unclear whether there in fact can be significant benefits, but certainly, as Christina points out, in many of the cases in question they probably don’t apply that much). This is a good argument, and far, far better than the bizarre and offensive rhetorical strategy of minimizing female genital mutilation in order to make largely spurious comparisons.

    Ok so then there are forms of FGM that are less than or equal to male circumcision in terms of how invasive they are. Even if they aren’t typically practiced, that point is not really relevant. The question is why do we criminalize all forms of FGM and turn a blind eye to circumcision.

    That’s an interesting question. Unfortunately, it’s almost completely drowned out by the basic fact that most forms – most moderate forms – of FGM certainly aren’t less than or equal to male circumcision in terms not just of invasiveness but harm, and of course that these forms are widespread – i don’t know if they’re the clear majority, but they appear definitely not to be the minority. Even the very worst and most harmful practices, where girls aren’t just mutilated but sown up, leading to many and extremely serious problems, may make up 10% of the total, according to some estimates.

    , I’m totally against female circumcision, but I don’t see how we’re going to be able to stop it while male circumcision is still allowed.

    It’s one thing to note vague similarities in rhetoric and rationalization. This general claim though, which pops up a bit here, seems somewhere between quite a stretch and wildly implausible. It would seem kinda obvious that the main factors have to do with the actual cultures themselves, and Egyptian bloggers citing American (or whatever) men getting circumcised is a rather empty argument that would disappear if the underlying support faded. I realize that “kinda obvious” (or worse, “self-evident” isn’t the strongest argument itself, but do you really imagine that Malaysian and Egyptian FGM-advocates are actually so concerned about western male circumcision that it actually supports their attitudes in any meaningful way, or perhaps that instead they’re figuratively wrapping themselves in discarded foreskins as an an meaninglessly easy comeback to western (or non-) bloggers?

  74. #74 Heather Dalgleish
    November 13, 2008

    I have no idea why I should have to state this to you, since you evidently seem familiar with some aspects of this already. There are four categories of FGM, ranging from, yes, a SIMPLE PINPRICK or slit made on the vulva, to excision and infibulation. The WHO will make this clear for you here: https://www.who.int/reproductive-health/fgm/terminology.htm

    As will Ayaan Hirsi Ali in this Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDz99IHHNkg

    On what authority do you suggest otherwise?

    (Ayaan herself, as you may know, suffered the most horrific form of FGM.)

    Indeed, there are even forms of MALE genital mutilation far more severe (and some milder) than male circumcision: subincision and penile skin-stripping to name but two that I am familiar with.

    Now onto the idea that FGM is about controlling sexuality and MGM isn’t: this is what we call an argument from ignorance.

    Why do you think that male circumcision became so popular in anglophone countries in the Victorian era? And are you aware of some of the apologies provided for circumcision by various religious authorities in times gone past?

    I’ll tell you: male circumcision was promoted in the victorian era precisely to stop little boys from masturbating, and to curb lust. Some forms of FGM were also promoted around this time on the back of the self-same rationale – but presumably didn’t gain as much widespread popularity. You will find the following quotes informative:

    “Finally, circumcision probably tends to increase the power of sexual control. The only physiological advantage which the prepuce can be supposed to confer is that of maintaining the penis in a condition susceptible to more acute sensation than would otherwise exist. It may increase the pleasure of intercourse and the impulse to it: but these are advantages which in the present state of society can well be spared. If in their loss increase in sexual control should result, one should be thankful.”

    Editor, Medical News. Our London Letter. Medical World,(1900).vol.77:pp.707-8

    “A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.”

    John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., “Treatment for Self-Abuse and its Effects,” Plain Fact for Old and Young. Burlington, Iowa: F. Segner & Co. (1888). P. 295)

    “In all cases of masturbation circumcision is undoubtedly the physician’s closest friend and ally… To obtain the best results one must cut away enough skin and mucous membrane to rather put it on the stretch when erections come later. There must be no play in the skin after the wound has thoroughly healed, but it must fit tightly over the penis, for should there be any play the patient will be found to readily resume his practice, not begrudging the time and extra energy required to produce the orgasm. It is true, however, that the longer it takes to have an orgasm, the less frequently it will be attempted, consequently the greater the benefit gained… The younger the patient operated upon the more pronounced the benefit, though occasionally we find patients who were circumcised before puberty that require a resection of the skin, as it has grown loose and pliant after that epoch.”

    E.J.Spratling, Masturbation in the Adult, Medical Record, vol. 24. (1895): pp. 442-443.

    “It has been urged as an argument against the universal adoption of circumcision that the removal of the protective covering of the glans tends to dull the sensitivity of that exquisitly sensitive structure and thereby diminishes sexual appetite and the pleasurable effects of coitus. Granted that this be true, my answer is that, whatever may have been the case in days gone by, sensuality in our time needs neither whip nor spur, but would be all the better for a little more judicious use of curb and bearing-rein.”

    E. Harding Freeland, Circumcision as a Preventative of Syphilis and Other Disorders, The Lancet, vol. 2 (29 Dec. 1900): pp.1869-1871.

    And now, how about some word from emininet Jewish intellectuals:

    “To these [reasons for circumcision] I would add that I consider circumcision to be a symbol of two things necessary to our well being. One is the excision of pleasures which bewitch the mind… the legislators [Jewish religious leaders who mandated periah circumcision circa 140 CE] thought good to dock the organ which ministers to such intercourse, thus making circumcision the figure of the excision of excessive and superfluous pleasure, not only of one pleasure, but of all the other pleasures signified by one, and that the most imperious.”

    Philo of Alexandria, Of the special laws, Book I (ii), in Works of Philo, trans. F. H. Colson, Loeb Classical Library, 1937, Vol. VII, p. 105

    “With regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible.

    […]

    The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished. The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened.”

    Moses ben Maimon, Guide for the Perplexed, Part III, Chapter 49

    The fact that the stated motivations have moved with the times doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the same barbaric act; just as it doesn’t make a jot of difference when those who circumcise little girls claim that they are doing it for “hygiene”. And the fact that there is a spectrum of genital mutilations doesn’t change the fact that a mutilation is a mutilation, is a mutilation. The least harmful types don’t trivialise the most horrendous, and vice versa.

    Unfortunately this is all I have time for at the moment…

  75. #75 Mane
    November 13, 2008

    “Independent of how you may feel about male circumcision, it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences. FGM nearly always does. FGM is not usually as “simple” as a pinprick. And who performs it is irrelevant.”

    See, the problem with this is that you seem to be arguing that it’s morally or ethically more acceptable to cut off the foreskin of a male, because it ‘doesn’t lead to long-term medical consequences’ even though studies like this one: http://www.livescience.com/health/070615_penis_sensitivity.html suggest otherwise.

    And ultimately the damage done is irrelevant, what IS relevant is that your imposing a damaging medical treatment onto someone without asking their consent. End of story. It doesn’t matter who is doing it, or whether they’re doing it for religious or cultural reasons, it’s ethically wrong to impose non-necessary medical treatments onto people, even if they’re a child, and you ether oppose it (forcing non-necessary medical treatments onto people) completely and absolutely, or not at all.

  76. #76 ubuwalker31
    November 13, 2008

    Having observed many discussions on this topic, the common thread, more often than not, is veiled antisemitism.

  77. #77 Andrew Dodds
    November 13, 2008

    Mane –

    EXACTLY. I don’t see what the complication is here; performing unnessicary surgery without consent is an absolute breach of ethics; questions about damage, function and whatever are absolutely irrelevant. Indeed, I can’t see how, in a court of law, a doctor could defend a charge of premeditated Grevious Bodily Harm.

    Seriously, if I take a new born baby to a hospital and demand that bits be chopped off, what are the guidelines? We should be told.

    If a man or woman reaches the age of 18, for example, and asks to be circumcised.. that is no more unethical than performing cosmetic surgery on someone who has been over exposed to photoshopped pictures. Fine – why insist on the surgery before informed consent can possibly happen?

  78. #78 MH
    November 13, 2008

    I wonder if the mentality that keeps the ritual of circumcision alive goes something like this:

    A boy grows up and realises that he was circumcised as a baby. He knows his parents elected to have this procedure done to him, and as he loves his parents, and they love him, he sees it as something that is done out of love. He can’t see it as mutilation as he can’t entertain the thought that his parents would elect to have him mutilated, especially in such an intimate area.

    When he has a son of his own, he chooses to have him circumcised out of love. This reinforces his thinking that his parents did it out of love rather than malice, as he loves his son, and wouldn’t do anything to harm him.

    Of course, he would be disgusted at the thought of doing the equivalent to his daughter, and that’s where the cognitive dissonance comes in. It is such dissonance that circumcision seeks to alleviate; the father isn’t choosing to have his son circumcised for his son’s sake, but for his own. By choosing to not have his son circumcised, he is admitting that his parents did something wrong when they chose to have him circumcised. He is also, perhaps, admitting that he is a victim of mutilation.

    A similar mentality exists in people who have been sexually abused by parents. They go on to abuse their own children to avoid admitting that they were abused by loved ones. It is cognitively easier to do so.

    The one shred of hope is that circumcision is becoming less common World-wide. Just as the incidence of racism, sexism, and homophobia seem to be inevitably decreasing as people become more worldly, so will circumcision. And then, even in the US, the pathetic ‘locker room’ rationalization will become extinct.

  79. #79 MH
    November 13, 2008

    ubuwalker31 : “Having observed many discussions on this topic, the common thread, more often than not, is veiled antisemitism.”

    Nice non-sequitur.

    I think this site is for you.

  80. #80 Akheloios
    November 13, 2008

    @ MH

    Yeah, you boiled it down perfectly. Circumcision (of both types) is traditional. It’s now been shown to cause medical problems.

    Our society of empirical truth should face up to the fact that we’re mutilating our children for no good reason.

    Whether it male circumcision or the more grotesque female circumcision, both should be stopped.

    It’s not enough to claim tradition anymore. If you make a claim you should have a lot of evidence to back it up. The evidence in support of circumcision simply isn’t there.

  81. #81 MH
    November 13, 2008

    PalMD, I’m curious about something. If one of your patients was adamant that they wanted their baby’s their baby’s free-hanging earlobes excised, “so they look like their daddy’s”, who would you be more likely to contact: a surgeon or social services?

    Now imagine that era-lobe excision was common in the US. Would your response change, and why?

  82. #82 61 year old Anonymous
    November 13, 2008

    Circumcision suppresses the desire to masterbate? Didn’t work on me!

    A comment about “two minute men”… My “two minute” problem was resolved by a divorce and re-marriage. It was purely psychological.

  83. #83 ml66uk
    November 13, 2008

    ubuwalker31 : “Having observed many discussions on this topic, the common thread, more often than not, is veiled antisemitism.”

    Not all Jewish people believe in circumcision. Brit Shalom is an alternative naming ceremony to celebrate the birth of baby boys to Jewish families.

    There are at least three websites run by Jews opposed to circumcision. I tried to list them all here, but comments with too many links seem get rejected.

    MH posted one link, you should be able to find a second by clicking on my username, and the third is here:

    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/

  84. #84 Anonymous
    November 13, 2008

    First I read here that removing the foreskin dulls the sensitivity of the glans and thus reduces sexual pleasure. This was supposedly the idea behind circumcision to discourage masterbation.

    Then – I read that premature ejaculation results from the glans being too exposed during intercourse. I thought it was desensitized by circumcision!

  85. #85 European
    November 13, 2008

    The whole argument is false. Discussing moral (un)equivalence of male circumcision is like arguing that because cutting off person’s leg in abhorrent, cutting a foot or a toe is perfectly OK.

    Morally, every mutilation of human body in abhorrent – unless the person agreed on it.

  86. #86 MH
    November 13, 2008

    Frank O’Hara wrote: “Male circumcision has also been shown to be associated with premature ejaculation, certainly the bain of many men. Premature ejaculation is strongly assocated with circumcision. The mechanics of this effect is a tight skin sleeve in men that holds the penile shaft against the prostate gland and with the undulations of sexual intercourse over stimulating the prostate to ejaculation before its time.”

    Anonymous wrote: “First I read here that removing the foreskin dulls the sensitivity of the glans and thus reduces sexual pleasure. This was supposedly the idea behind circumcision to discourage masterbation. Then – I read that premature ejaculation results from the glans being too exposed during intercourse. I thought it was desensitized by circumcision!”

    Anonymous, while I can’t comment on the veracity of Frank’s claim, I understood him to be saying that although the excision of the foreskin results in less sensitivity (because of fewer nerve endings), the resulting tightness of skin on the shaft stimulates the prostate more, and therefore can lead to premature ejaculation.

    Maybe this diagram will help.

  87. #87 European
    November 13, 2008

    BTW, I have a friend who lives in the USA. He said that his son was circumcised against his will. The doctor just handed a sheet of paper to a woman half-consious after birth, and circumcision was one position hidden among many. He believes that it is popular in USA because it is a simple way to get extra money from patients.

  88. #88 Dan S.
    November 13, 2008

    like arguing that because cutting off person’s leg in abhorrent, cutting a foot or a toe is perfectly OK.

    Except – unless I missed some comments – nobody’s arguing anything like that.

    Nobody’s saying that because female genital mutilation is, in most to almost(?) all of its forms, horribly harmful and abhorrent, that male circumcision is perfectly OK. Folks might feel that male circ is perfectly fine, or kinda messed up but not enough to make a big fuss about (or a horrible violation of a helpless baby boy), but that’s independent of FGM, and the two aren’t really comparable at all, except on the margins or in a tightly circumscribed manner (ie, similar attitudes). Look, read PalMD’s post again, this time noticing the parts where he says things like “Independent of how you may feel about male circumcision, it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences. FGM nearly always does. ” or “Go ahead and argue the ethics of male circ on their merits. There is a reasonable discussion to be had. But leave FGM out of it.

    The point, for those of us arguing with you folks, is that independently of our opinions on male circumcision – from unnecessary, risky, and violently violatory to ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ - a lot of guys are offensively minimizing the reality of female genital mutilation.

    Please stop.

    I’m not sure what you’re not understanding here. Is there some way we could explain it to you better?

  89. #89 Heather Dalgleish
    November 13, 2008

    “Having observed many discussions on this topic, the common thread, more often than not, is veiled antisemitism.”

    Yes – and our abhorrence felt against FGM is just veiled “Islamophobia”… Give me a break.

    For a start, antisemitism implies hatred against semites – particularly Jews – for their RACE, the very essence of the code written in their genes, and how this is supposed to manifest in their behaviour.

    Very few Jews are born circumcised. (In fact, the proportion who are born aposthic is exactly the same as the population at large.) It is not part of their race or their genetic material: It is a cultural and religious practice, just like FGM. We are allowed to abhor cultural and religious practices. It doesn’t imply that we hate any particular racial group that performs that particular cultural practice. And even then, I’m brought to enquire as to how the hell you perceived “veiled antisemitism”…

    Not to mention of course that there are intact (uncircumcised) Jews – which my other half might have been lucky to have grown up to be, had his grandparents not pestered his mother until she gave assent to have him snipped at a year old.

    Plus – it may pay you to know that Jews make up an absolutely miniscule proportion of circumcisees worldwide. If one were going purely by statistics, one would have a stronger case for describing an anti-circumcision stance as being Islamophobic or anti-American way before antisemitic – and even then the logic is still hopelessly fallacious.

  90. #90 Katharine
    November 13, 2008

    Here’s an idea: Cutting off ANY part of a person without their consent is wrong. (Haircuts and nails are an exception because those are keratinous growth which is not innervated (except for where the nail touches the finger).

    And if you minimize the severity of FGM, try cutting off your clitoris or glans to see how you feel about the subsequent mutilation of your genitals and the loss of sexual function.

  91. #91 Christina
    November 13, 2008

    And now, after a day and a night of commenting, let’s tally the results, shall we? Out of at least, what 50? comments on a post that was a straight up “FGM =/=Circumcision and this is why” post, the resulting comments are overwhelmingly about the penis. I tried to count them but I got dizzy. Check any thread on FGM anywhere and this is exactly what happens.
    Highlights of this one include:

    “If female circumcision did in fact completely remove the woman’s capacity to enjoy sex, the women would become extremely resistant to sexual intercourse. The birth rate in areas that practice female circumcision refutes this.”

    Right because a woman in a patriarchal society is free to say no to her own…er…right.

    “I’m totally against female circumcision, but I don’t see how we’re going to be able to stop it while male circumcision is still allowed.”

    And that is another round of “We’ll worry about your little arterial bleed, darling, just as soon as you make sure my athlete’s foot is addressed.”

    Thank you for joining us for another rousing game of “But..but…someone is *wrong* on the internet”.

  92. #92 Dan S.
    November 13, 2008

    But..but…someone is *wrong* on the internet. Or at least using very odd terminology. The quoted bit from comments to Hall’s post:

    Many cultures that practice FGM only perform either a type I Ritual circumcision: The clitoris is wounded by pricking it with a needle or by pinching it so as to make a few drops of blood run.

    – maybe i’m typing something wrong, but the only occurrence if the phrase “type I Ritual circumcision” I’m finding online is . . . well, that comment. (The same goes for “type II Summa”. ) The 2008 World Health Organization document [pdf] I mentioned before notes that the definition of Type I FGM has been changed from the 1995 version – specifically,

    “The reference to the clitoral prepuce is moved to the end of the sentence. The reason for this change is the common tendency to describe Type I as removal of the prepuce [clitoral hood], whereas this has not been documented as a traditional form of female genital mutilation. However, in some countries, medicalized female genital mutilation can include removal of the prepuce only (Type Ia) (Thabet and Thabet, 2003), but this form appears to be relatively rare (Satti et al., 2006). Almost all known forms of female genital mutilation that remove tissue from the clitoris also cut all or part of the clitoral glans itself.

    (there also doesn’t seem to be an ” . . . or” at the other end of that “either . . . “, leaving us to permanently wonder what possibly imagined or rare practice might have been intended. Of course, it may be that the commenter has extensive personal knowledge of FGM not represented on the internet (presumably some things aren’t) . . . but I have to wonder.

  93. #93 D. C. Sessions
    November 13, 2008

    I have to hand it to you, Dr. Lipson: you can really run up the page views.

    My hat is off to you (as it were.)

  94. #94 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 13, 2008

    PalMd says:”First of all, viagra and circumcision are unrelated, as are ED and circumcision. Second, there is no “circumcision industrial complex”

    Yeah, that’s off the point,Pal. Conspiracy? He who smelt it dealt it.And I suspect that you are more than willing to withhold other options from patients in a great variety of other medical procedures too.

    It is yours to prove otherwise, but I would wager there might be a link, but its not in the interest of the great minds of the $Viagra$ pimpin drug companies to fund such study. Medical evidence of trauma to men? Since when is that important–men are disposable in the medical paradigm, because if they weren’t, all of those old soldiers who died of cigarettes and MEK, and asbestos related cancer would have had a lawsuit long before their widows and daughters benefitted from ‘breast cancer’ runs. Let’s not get started on how long it took “science and the medical community” to acknowledge agent orange.

    In effect, I am guessing (just guessing) that there is more to it than Viagra and ED-v-circ, including a host of unexplored other explanations, not least of which is how you and others who should know better are willing to speak for an infant that you are not related to or who can even form words, but worse, you are willing to slice the skin of that infant as well.

    I never said there was a conspiracy, or neccessarily a firm link, but suggest that it is an issue that could be explored–like, for instance, is the rate of impotence and ED as high in places where prostitution is legal, or are we just sticking to the paradigm–sanctioned by the AMA, if I remember right–that one man should be hard and happy poking only one woman until death parts them– by others who don’t have their minds so firmly rooted in their lower chakra, or invested in pimping Viagra.

    And you never answered the question: how much $jingjing$ do you make each time you a) convince some parent to cut their child then b) perform that cutting of a child and c) perform aftercare with accompanying medications? And what do you make in kickbacks every time you convince some old clipped dick to chomp some $Viagra& instead of chomping at some other sexy fare?

    In other words, you say that there is no medical consequence, in one lump sum, and in fact results vary by degrees, as noted by anon. The variables that come into play on this issue are un/underexplored, and easily derided, thus making them “unexplorable” in your quasi science based terms, and in common medical assumption.
    Variable: men are less prone to talk about their feelings
    variable: men are ashamed to talk about their penis’
    variable: as many above have demonstrated, including you yourself, talk of male sexuality is derided as ‘obsessive’ or perverse
    variable: that there is no evidence that circumcision is something that men even consider as a part of their sexual problems is like explaining to a Christian tha
    variable: it is always the purported authorities who act as paid propagandists for a cause that gatekeep(as you are doing now) the actual data that might contradict their junk science opinions.
    variable:it is always those in power that atempt to diffuse and stifle dissenting opinions, and facts–in this case, you attemting to sideline a healthy doscussion by labeling it as a conspiracy.

    I for one expect more from someone who is supposed to be a medical authority–not least of which is to be properly informed about medical options that might affect me for life. You aren’t delivering that basic service, doc.

    Anonymous said” you can’t think that all circumcised people will have the same experiences when there are 1) different degrees of circumcision 2) different amounts of pre-existing foreskin.”

    Yup, that’s the point.But as for your basic complaint–that I somehow am confusing labia major with the foreskin, I admit, it was a red herring, but one placed in the stew because it has merit as a metaphor: women with long labia are having them clipped off, just as some men in later life clip the tip. The usual reason they do it? It’s ‘gross’ and unsightly–so say others, and some in the medical community who affirm that stance, like Pal.

    I was addressing the linguistic rather than the biologic sense of morphology. The literal biological is secondary in the case of the labia and the schmuck, because in this case we are not talking origin of flesh, but of psychological function/dysfunction. So when we see that ppl routinely ‘buy-in’ to medical miracles like labia clipping and schmuckery, we are actually seeing the psychological effects of the medical memes like Pal up there, claiming that cutting boys is good, and harmless, whereas when we cut girls–or they have themselves cut-all of the med community weighs in and decries the practice.

  95. #95 Katharine
    November 13, 2008

    Maleorgan Freedom –

    THE LABIA ARE NOT HOMOLOGOUS TO THE FORESKIN.

  96. #96 PalMD
    November 13, 2008

    To paraphrase another (in)famous blogger, “If you chum the waters with foreskin, you get what you deserve.” And to quote some else entirely, “Never the gribines at the mohel’s house.

    But in all seriousness, so many different issues are being conflated here.

    Issue 1: Female genital mutilation is a barbaric practice whose design and result in the vast majority of cases is to reduce or eliminate female sexual pleasure, and to subjugate and control women.

    Issue 2: Male circumcision, as it is commonly practiced, has few if any complications, may or may not have health benefits, and raises a number of serious, legitimate ethical questions. Male circ does not lead to erectile dysfunction—that’s a different anatomy.

    Issues 1 and 2 are separate and separable. They are only related in that both involve genitals. And some of the penis-obsessed folks hijacking a thread about misogyny and oppression are frankly disturbing. Aside from a few oddly obsessed people, most circumcised men couldn’t care less—which of course doesn’t make the practice de facto ethical, but it’s relevant to the discussion.

  97. #97 Hugh7
    November 13, 2008

    Dan S. “it’s hard to overstate how wildly unsympathetic you guys are making yourself to any of us who have even the slightest concern about FGM.”

    You imply that we don’t. In fact, all Intactivists are implacably opposed to all FGC (except adult, informed, truly voluntary), and the semi-annual International Symposia on Genital Integrity are about 50:50 about FGC and MGC.

    What we object to is the perpetual and often gratuitous trivialisation of the harm of MGC as a way of maximising the harm of FGC. (And it is a simple fact that not all FGC is clitoridectomy, and the minor forms – as practised across Indonesia and Malaysia – are more minor than a typical male circumcision.)

    “Now, if the vast majority of cases of female genital mutilation are a) performed in a safe and hygienic manner and result in either rather mild or no loss of pleasure and sensation, with quite rare complications (ie, if the world is other than it is), well, then the foreskin brigade would seem to have a fair comparison on their hands. But, of course . . .”

    How about if a significant number of male circumcisions are performed in an unsafe and unhygienic manner and result in a significant number of deaths and loss of penis? 22 youths died in Eastern Cape Province alone this circumcision season, and they are to open special wards there for the victims of botched tribal circumcisions. Once we compare apples with apples, the differences diminish.

    Where we constantly get slapped down, and in our view unjustifiably, is for making an ethical comparision, between FGC and MGC as human rights issues. All human beings have a basic right to choose which healthy, non-renewable parts of their own bodies may be cut off. It’s implicit in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (which only the US and Somalia haven’t signed) under the heading “security of the person”. This applies regardless of degrees of severity.

  98. #98 MH
    November 13, 2008

    @PalMD

    So it’s not the practice of genital mutilation that you disagree with, but the extent? If FGM resulted in no more harm as MGM does, you’d be okay with it?

  99. #99 PalMD
    November 13, 2008

    There’s a semi-annual International Symposia on Genital Integrity?

  100. #100 Lab Lemming
    November 13, 2008

    I think foreskins cause autism.

  101. #101 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 13, 2008

    Katharine: Read my Lip….er…well, here’s what I said about that.

    “But as for your basic complaint–that I somehow am confusing labia major with the foreskin, I admit, it was a red herring, but one placed in the stew because it has merit as a metaphor: women with long labia are having them clipped off, just as some men in later life clip the tip. The usualreason they do it? It’s ‘gross’ and unsightly-”

    and about homology in general”I was addressing the linguistic rather than the biologic sense of morphology. The literal biological is secondary in the case of the labia and the schmuck, because in this case we are not talking origin of flesh, but of psychological function/dysfunction.”

    Pal: circumcision “may or may not have health benefits, and raises a number of serious, legitimate ethical questions.”

    Thanks for that biscuit.But really, if the post is about massageninnies and not about male circumcision–you should post it as such. But your title “Why male circumcision and female genital mutilation are not morally equivalent” signifies otherwise, as does the subject matter.

    “aside from a few oddly obsessed people”

    Wow, Pal: a little Freudian projection there? Since when do men not have a right to discuss isues that affect men? Did you and all of the massageninnies decide that cornering every issue that affects men into a gynocentric MD worldview is somehow not the same as when the AMA was recommending Draconian methods of controlling women and their bodies?
    Its almost as if hearing men speak, you validate every feminist critique ever written about pedantic male doctors, and arrogance, but “in reverse”.

    And your interpretation of the nature of this thread causes me to worry about your ability to interpret patients symptomatic self reports. Your ability to listen well (read well?) is near zero–that you find men who are concerned about issues that affect men “disturbing” says more about you, and your level of self awareness, or about you, and a desire to exert control over men, starting with the penis, than anything.I.E your just tweeking dicks, and this isn’t a serious post anyways, just another bored intern generating webhits for pennies.

    Maybe you would rather swim in a sea of women lamenting the labia of other women? How voyeuristic…If you want ppl to understand that this is a post about only one kind of oppression and then to extrapolate that it is actually about mysoginy– just another pity-da-po-vagina-wallow–label it as such, and keep the penis out of it…

  102. #102 MaxPolun
    November 13, 2008

    I thought I might inject a though here; One common claim of anti-circ partisans (notice that there are very few pro circ partisans, mostly it’s “meh” vs. circ=holocaust) is that it is unethical to perform surgery on a child without their consent. This is actually not true, it is ethical to perform surgery on a child with their parent’s consent (especially before they could possibly give consent), as long as it is ethical for the surgery to be performed on an adult. Now there is an argument to be made that the majority of American circumcisions are in fact unethical (being unnecessary surgery), but this is not the argument being made.

  103. #103 MH
    November 13, 2008

    MaxPolun wrote: “One common claim of anti-circ partisans (notice that there are very few pro circ partisans, mostly it’s “meh” vs. circ=holocaust genital mutilation)”

    That does seem to be the case, whether the circumcision in question is male or female. Actually, the same could be said for many human rights issues. I guess it’s just easier to say “meh”.

    Oh, and I think the argument is actually that it’s unethical to perform cosmetic surgery on a child without their consent. The exceptions would be to correct for congenital disorders (e.g. cleft lip), or to correct injuries (e.g. burns).

  104. #104 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 13, 2008

    Max: you make a good point “notice that there are very few pro circ partisans”, especially about the meh crowd–that crowd most prone to conflate anti circumcision viewpoints with circ=holocaustics.

    What is most remarkable is how the issue gets circumvented (ahem)when other men (some who are little more than dildos) cringe in their emotional diaper every time someone speaks seriously about the penis.

    Imagine a world where we adopted Freuds paradigm of rape fantasy? It is akin to this same adoption (demonstrated above) that men somehow are wacko if we are concerned about systemic abuse of our gender, our individual feelings, or basic human rights. Most importantly, it is the co-option of our telling of our tale, rather than the filtered “meh” version above.

  105. #105 N.C.
    November 13, 2008

    What the hell is is about circumcision that can readily attract so many loud, verbose kooks at the drop of a hat?

  106. #106 Vikinggirl
    November 13, 2008

    Where to start in tackling a post like this?

    It’s written by an apparently intelligent man on a website purporting to tackle denialists …Yet inconvenient facts are entirely absent and cultural perception underlies every sentence.

    This reaches almost comedy proportions when he claims that the international bodily integrity movement is about ‘phallus worship’. Except it’s not really funny, as these comments are just the legacy of puritanical Victorians who claimed the foreskin predisposed a man to moral decay – and they are still being used to deprive boys and men of a joyful bit of their anatomy. Flick a gender switch to understand how unaccaptable his statement is – even in the debates around consensual (but culturally promoted) labiaplasty, few would dare call its detractors vulva worshipers. This would be seen as pure misogyny: condemning women for valuing and promoting what is both good and rightfully part of their body.

    Let’s look at Harriet’s piece first though, which is even more disturbing than PalMD. Having grown up in a culture in which body dysmorphia is the norm, and the foreskin is regarded with instinctive revulsion, as a young doctor she’s performed assembly line genital mutilation without anaesthetic. She pretends objectivity in justifying it. Let’s test that…

    Firstly let’s have a look at the website on which Harriet ‘researches’ information on circumcision. It happens to be run by an Australian circumcisionist named Brian Morris. This man is notorious on the international circumcision lobby scene – even people on his own side are embarrassd by his output. Urologist Tim Hargreaves in London’s FT newspaper last year referred to him as ‘a bit of a fanatic’. A bit of an understatement Tim!
    This man is so determined to demonise the prepuce that he goes where most Caucasian circumcisionists fear to tread – he wants type 1a female circ to be tested as a benefit. (see his website, and he has also made this clear in a personal email to me).

    Let’s look also at Harriet’s claim that infants feel nothing in Plastibell cutting – because the cut is done by means of string when the tissue is dead. Well, Plastibell fitting involves rupturing natural infant adhesions and then cutting longitudonally through the highly nerve rich foreskin – did you forget that detail Harriet? For anyone – man or woman – with an intact one it’s obvious that would be agony. In case we don’t want to believe what’s obvious we also have measurements of oxygen saturation, plasma cortisol, heart rate rises of around 50 beats per minute or more. No ethical doctor would try to argue that these don’t represent harm – even on a precautionary basis we would apply pain relief. Every paediatric body accepts that the biochemical measurements or even just the visual pain scores represent ‘severe and persistent pain’. To deny this is nothing short of monstrous. As for ‘sleeping through it’ this is adding insult to injury. Neurologists and neonatologists have invesigated infant pain and shown that although they may show the visual signs that adults do, they may also be prone to internalise it and may simply appear to shut down. Neonatal pain is now believed to be greater than adults in equivalent situations. Harriet has a clear personal interest in denying the agonies she has inflicted on babies however – her peace of mind depends on it. Roll on the day when doctors are prosecuted for hurting babies in this way I say.

    As for the professionalism of conducting surgery on a highly delicate organ with string and blunt scissors a top UK urologist said recently he just cannot believe this is allowed. Nor can I. And that’s even before addressing the consent – or lack of it – for amputating a healthy highly functional body part.

    Harriet claims haughtily that she’s not pro-circumcision. This is just silly – it’s clear in every paragraph. If Harriet was taking a truly neutral approach evaluating the surgery effectively she’d have to look at the joys and other benefits of having a foreskin. Yet she simply won’t go there. Why is the idea of the benefits of the foreskin so offensive to both PalMD and Harriet? Why would an evidence-focused person be offended by biologically demonstrable facts such as the high sensitivity of the prepuce, not to mention its protective and immunological roles? Its pheromones? Its oestrogen receptors? Not fit to be mentioned for some reason. Might scare the horses.

    Why also would a logic proponent make a point about foreskin providing a warm moist place where bacteria thrive without pointing out that the labia also provide such a place? Why emphasise in talking about the foreskin that smegma is disgusting and foul-smelling and some people believe it is linked to cancer without pointing out that 150 million American women get smegma too? The bias is so obvious in this article that to argue that it’s neutral is like a slap in the face to the reader. It’s like the man who, when found by his wife in bed with his girlfriend got up calmly, dressed and went about his business calling her a mad bitch …

    Both Harriet and PalMD are intelligent enough to know that being brought up in a North American culture has deeply biased their view of the male body and that their views have almost nothing to do with science. However there is simply too much at stake for both of them – Harriet has bought into the system by conducting vivisections on babies and PalMD has had shares in it bought for him in return for the most sensitive skin on his genitals ….There is no going back, and on one level I do sypathise with that.

    But for heavens sake, just for the debate, why not do a little bit of fact checking? Would it really hurt that much to confront some truths about MGM and FGM? Do you know or care for example that in one South African state alone up to 40 young men die each year from circ, alongside 40 who lose their whole penis, and over 1000 who are hospitalised with severe complications? Do you know that when a little boy bled to death in Ireland a few years back the judge at the trial of his cutter (2006) instructed the jury not to bring their ‘white western values’ to the case (in other words don’t think this small black boy had rights). Where does that case sit when you tell us angrily that male circ is nothing much whereas female circ is mutilation and oppression? What about the two babies who have bled to death this summer in Italy? The Russian twin who died under anaesthetic in the last few months while his brother woke up? The baby boy who stopped breathing minutes after being cut in London last year? The Canadian boy whose death was reported last year – he had such severe urinary retention after a circ that his bladder swelled to seven times its normal size. What about the latest paper from Israel that shows that each year there are around 2000 days of hospitalisations for UTI in males in the period immediately following circumcision? All this is trivial to you? Inconvenient facts? These deaths above are only the ones that make the English language news online – a reasonable estimate would say hundreds of boys and men around the world die each year and untold numbers suffer severe pain, bleeding, infections, amputations, catch HIV, or become sexually dysfunctional as a result. 2-3 million girls/women are cut each year and almost five times as many boys/men, with almost all of each being done by barbers or random amateurs with primitive materials no pain relief and no anaesethetic.

    Have you read the 2008 interagency statement which says ‘current estimates indicate that around 90% of fgm cases involve type I or II and cases where girls genitals were ‘nicked’ but no flesh removed (Type IV)’. Have you noted Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s comments that she believes MGM may sometimes be more severe than FGM as it removes so much tissue (10-15 square inches on an adult male in case you’re wondering – around half his penile skin system). Have you read her describe (in Infidel) the trauma of her cutting alongside her sister and brother and the recognition that he was as traumatised as they – she notes they all wet the bed afterwards but his went on for weeks …

    Try also reading the New York Times Jan 08 article covering Indonesian female cutting. It stated that this typically involves the removal of a sliver of her clitoral foreskin. It’s done to ‘stabilise the libido’ , to make her ‘more beautiful in the eyes of her husband’ and to ‘balance her psychology’. Number one argument is similar to the one used to introduce and promote male circ in the US in Victorian times (yes one of your primary ‘misspokes’ – reduction of sexual pleasure is the main reason that male circ was introduced in the US as the UK). Number two is simply a version of what Nicole Ritchie and so many other shallow women say about male circ. Number three is what you’re trying to argue when you say that men with foreskins are obsessed.

    FGM is awful yes and at its most vicious is almost unspeakably horrible. I’d argue that testicular crushing, and subincision are pretty nasty also, though rarer. Most of all though, i’d argue that child protection is not a game of mutilation top trumps. All children deserve the joy that mother nature gave them in their bodies and the knowledge that adults will go out of their way to protect them from harm.

    Let’s give the UN the final word. Here are some recent quotes:
    ‘mandated or coerced male circumcision breaches a range of human rights including the rights to dignity, bodily integrity, and personal autonomy.’

    ‘We are becoming increasingly concerned about the medicalisation of female genital mutilation. This is where the mutilation is performed by health professionals in health facilities. The argument that a mild form performed by medically trained personnel is safer is commonly heard in countries where female genital mutilation is practiced. But this should never be considered as an option.’

    ‘Often, female genital mutilation is carried out on minors, violating the rights of a child to free and full consent on matters concerning her body and body functions.’

    While the degree of violation varies, particularly in girls, the fact that genital mutilation is violation does not change.

  107. #107 Susan
    November 13, 2008

    Hey, I’m a feminazi, and I didn’t have my son circumsized, for many of the same reasons Christina outlined above. That doesn’t mean I think there’s equivalency, it just means I didn’t see any need to have unnecessary surgery performed on my perfect baby boy. Good post, PalMD!

  108. #108 rationalcutguy
    November 13, 2008

    What the hell is is about circumcision that can readily attract so many loud, verbose kooks at the drop of a hat?

    Beats me. Maybe it’s a bunch of small-dicked insecure nut-jobs who have nothing better to do than look at their peckers and weep for their “lost masculinity”.

  109. #109 ml66uk
    November 13, 2008

    What the hell is is about circumcision that can readily attract so many loud, verbose kooks at the drop of a hat?

    People defending female circumcision do the same thing as you. They can’t defend it by rational argument, so they attack those against it. (“what’s it to do with you?” “have you got nothing better to do?” etc)

    Beats me. Maybe it’s a bunch of small-dicked insecure nut-jobs who have nothing better to do than look at their peckers and weep for their “lost masculinity”.

    Another ad hominem argument. Most intactivists are either intact men or women anyway.

    If male circumcision and female circumcision are so fundamentally different, then why do cultures that circumcise women see it differently? Why did US doctors think they were the same?

    http://www.noharmm.org/CircintheFemale.htm (“Circumcision in the Female: Its Necessity and How to Perform It” American Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 22, no. 6, June 1915)
    http://www.noharmm.org/circumfemale.htm (“Circumcision of the Female”, GP, Vol. XVIII No. 3, September, 1958)
    http://www.noharmm.org/femcirctech.htm (“Female Circumcision: Indications and a New Technique”, GP, vol. XX, no. 3, September, 1959)

  110. #110 The Chemist
    November 13, 2008

    Damn, i wish I had got here earlier, I think the discussion is pretty much dead at this point.

    I will say this much about the whole deal: Saying something is or isn’t morally equivalent- kinda futile. People have an obnoxious tendency to draw their own equivalencies. Not that I’m necessarily disagreeing, or agreeing, with you Pal, it’s just that I fail to see how you thought you wouldn’t be running up against a brick wall on this one.

  111. #111 PalMD
    November 13, 2008

    I gotta admit, I missed this one the first time:

    In the very least, an un-clipped dick provides a man with the most primal sensory similarity to women, which is that the foreskin– prepupice–, can hold smegma, and also be odorous. Odor is primary in several aspects to emotional attachments, and emotional detachment in women to themselves, and their view of themselves, and I would argue men as well, because a woman’s odors are indicative of health/unhealth; fertility; infertility; having had sex/not had sex, etc.

    Circumcision sucks because smegma is good! w00t!!!11!

  112. #112 the real Cool Maleorgan Freedom
    November 13, 2008

    “just the legacy of puritanical Victorians who claimed the foreskin predisposed a man to moral decay”
    Go Vikinggirl!
    and Yay for Susan the feminazi who didn’t have her son clipped. Rational voices indeed, unlike those who one might expect to be rational–yaknow, like doctors.

    Pal, you are obviously a smirking product of too much MD internship,( let me guess: you are the sort that wanted to be a vagynacologist, but feared that you would be seen as transparenttly voyeuristic?) or not enough other literary prowess.

    The entire body of feminist literature is chock full of analogies, metaphors and gosh-darn-it plain honest explorations of what defines a woman, or women. One of those things is “body image”, or more appropriately, most of those things are body image; and how that body is cast as a political football between ppl like you, the AMA, and other bodies politic. Male bodies are that as well.

    Now, Pal, I am not suggesting that smegma is “good”, though your loose interpretation of everything else I wrote would infer that you haven’t read the context–for you, I am sure, this post is just another way to attempt to clip the parts of males that you haven’t already, or don’t have access to–of anything I have written, cherry picking for blog hits as you are. Wow. “Someone read my cyber-baiting, but poorly written crap” says Pal to himself, every time he dangles the foreskins of others in the blogosphere, in a self-satisfied coup over “men” in general, and the penises of infant males who will become men–and maybe, even his several”women friends” will think he’s cool.
    Or Not.
    The point of the smegma is a simple one, far to germane to human interaction for a lab coated scrub pants antiseptic guzzlin’ fellah like yourself to grasp: the very nature of the human animal is to use its senses–which of course, you don’t have time for, being busy as you are in your sterilized world cutting infant penises, and cauterizing them with burning iodine every day–but we humans here in the real world use our senses to interpret data sent to us through and by other human animals.

    Smegma, as I can only guess you are aware (based on your insensitivity, I can only imagine that you know it through textbooks–after all don’t “the nurses” clean up those dirty, smelly women for you first before you have to come near them?) impacts one of the most primary–and some say the most primary–sense organ of the nose; mammals bond/don’t bond through smell. Infants–the same ones you initiate with your male hands on their small glans, clipping away as you will-no doubt on some level grow to know two things about you Pal, based on smell: 1) you smell like scrubs and icky iodine and 2) your underlying odor is male–and that odor possibly later to be asociated with a host of negative feelings about males. Much literature covers this topic, so I won’t bore you any further-but suffice it to say that this primal infant pain related to odors and the sense of smell is in stark contrast to the smell of a nipple, and the ‘scent of a woman’ that provide the opposite feelings for those male infants that you slice.

    That in itself is unexplored ground–the data collection on that! Good luck, after all, male infants don’t have such words to participate in such studies…But I have noticed that your style is to not read, or respond to anything that defies your cauterizing perspective, and so it only makes sense that you also missed this part of that bit about smegma :

    *”odors are indicative of health/unhealth; fertility; infertility; having had sex/not had sex, etc.”*

    Odors tell us about ourselves, and about others in the most basic human way, and as we see from your response, that is apparently a lunatic assumption, considering as that you can’t bill folks for what they can discern about their own health without the aid of the medical community–but I bet you are great at prescribing $Viagra$, and even better at washing your hands.

    And what would you know about any of those things in the human animal Mr Mengele? You are just another skin-clipper with a higher purpose. Here, you got my tattoo, skinned, and hanging here illuminating a rather dull blog post for your hyper-sterilized cronies. Put that head, that limb, that piece of post-human in the cooler now, Joseph, and go scrub your nailss…

  113. #113 ambivalent academic
    November 13, 2008

    Wowzers! This got heated in a hurry. Not sure that I have much to add to the debate, but:

    @ the Veterinarian who posted a while back about people willing to spay their female dogs but reluctant to neuter their males. Maybe not having anything to do with attitudes towards human genitalia…

    You may be seeing a simple risk calculation. Fixing costs $$$ (though not much). If my female dog gets preggy then I have to find a home for the puppies (which cost more $$$). If my male dog has a Saturday night on the town…oh well, puppies aren’t mine. I have noticed lots of pet owners that are loathe to fix their male critters…but I think that were it not for risk of puppies or the inconvenience of bleeding on the white carpet you’d see a lot more (irresponsible) dog owners with intact females as well. Probably the very same people who think it’s cruel not to let a female have at least one litter before fixing her. Weird, but there are a lot of them out there.

  114. #114 Asdf
    November 13, 2008

    Posted by: PalMD | November 13, 2008 6:01 PM:

    “Issues 1 and 2 are separate and separable. They are only related in that both involve genitals. ”

    Also, purposeful and needless mutilation of unaware children. They both also involve that. You forgot that part. ;)

  115. #115 anna
    November 13, 2008

    Frankly, men with foreskins do a lousy job of hygiene, regardless of how clean they think they are. Men- have you ever smelled/tasted your own penis-tip? Or that of another man? That is some rank funk there once you get aroused. Urine, semen, excretory potions aplenty.
    Oh- then there are the men with the semi-nonretractable foreskins who whine about pain & bleeding, but don’t want to have it dealt with. I’m supposed to do what with this equipment?
    Lop them off.

  116. #116 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 13, 2008

    Anna Said:

    Frankly, men with foreskins do a lousy job of hygiene, regardless of how clean they think they are. Men- have you ever smelled/tasted your own penis-tip? Or that of another man? That is some rank funk there once you get aroused. Urine, semen, excretory potions aplenty.

    You know Anna, given their relative dimensions it’s funny foreskin should be seen as a harbinger of putrification when women walk around with a far lusher petri-dish between their legs.

  117. #117 Barrayaran
    November 13, 2008

    This is the oddest issue to, er, embrace. In a world full of landmines, global poverty, AIDS, corporate monopolies, pollution, dying oceans, and reality television, and too many other crimes against common humanity to name, some people decide what’s vital is… saving the foreskin.

  118. #118 Asdf
    November 14, 2008

    This Desmond Morris clip is interesting and relevant.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaFtcIrtbm0

    I agree with his conclusion:

    “I can’t help feeling that if male circumcision didn’t exist today, and someone tried to introduce it, they would be arrested for child abuse. But its traditional role as a major rite of passage is too entrenched to bow to common sense or objective medical opinion.”

  119. #119 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    Why do people act like the foreskin is just a little peice of skin? You do realize that it’s 15 square inches, and contains more nerves than the rest of the penis combined… i.e., it’s the most important part of the whole penis.

  120. #120 Blacque Jacques Shellacque
    November 14, 2008

    it’s the most important part of the whole penis.

    So with its removal, does the whole thing stop working altogether?

  121. #121 Andrew Dodds
    November 14, 2008

    It’s ironic that this is on the Denialism blog..

    It’s quite obvious that both PalMD and Harriet are engaged in standard denialism; the most obvious mental symptom is the absolute inability to step back from the issue and examine it objectively.

    Just as an anti-vaccination denialist is absolutely mentally unable to step back and look at the studies of vaccine risk vs. benefit objectively, neither PalMD or Harriet are able to step back and say to themselves ‘If circumcision of any kind was not practiced anywhere in the world, would I offer the procedure?’, or ‘Is there any justification for unnessicary surgery without consent ever?’. These are the core questions, but a denialist never goes near them, because to acknowledge them would be to acknowledge the possibility of being wrong. Instead, a denialist will ‘go relative'; for example ‘Measels isn’t very dangerous/Male circumcision isn’t very dangerous'; ‘Vaccination is a matter of parents knowing what is best for their child'; ‘Crcumcision is a matter of parents knowing what is best for their child’.

    As far as circumcision goes, issues of hygene, danger, pain, sensitvity and whatnot are absolutely irrelevant. The issue is that of consent – and I note that not one defender of circumcision is prepared in any way to address this subject. For cosmetic operations, the positive consent of the patient MUST always be obtained; this is NOT a ‘ serious, legitimate ethical question’, it’s standard medical practice! You might as well be a creationist raising ‘serious, legitimate’ questions about the constancy of decay rates.

    Of course, a true denialist will now give me a label (Anti-circ fanatic? Phallus worshipper? I’m sure you have plenty), anything to avoid answering the core issue. No consent = No cosmetic surgery. Address that or join the ranks of the denialists.

  122. #122 Azkyroth
    November 14, 2008

    Circumcision suppresses the desire to masterbate? Didn’t work on me!

    Yes, and having sex standing up doesn’t work to prevent pregnancy, but that doesn’t stop people believing that it does and doing it for that purpose.

    Are you really that thick?

  123. #123 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    “So with its removal, does the whole thing stop working altogether?”

    Nobody claimed this. But, since it still works, I guess we could cut more off then, right? There is an Eunuch (had his penis and testicles removed) and he can still orgasm through prostate massage. So maybe all of male genitalia could be removed… solid logic following your premise.

  124. #124 Dunc
    November 14, 2008

    Just as an anti-vaccination denialist is absolutely mentally unable to step back and look at the studies of vaccine risk vs. benefit objectively, neither PalMD or Harriet are able to step back and say to themselves ‘If circumcision of any kind was not practiced anywhere in the world, would I offer the procedure?’, or ‘Is there any justification for unnessicary surgery without consent ever?’. These are the core questions

    They may be the core questions, but they’re not actually the topic of this post, as far as I can see. The actual topic of the post is the oft-claimed moral equivalence of male circumcision and FGM. I refer you to the last para of the original post: “Go ahead and argue the ethics of male circ on their merits. There is a reasonable discussion to be had. But leave FGM out of it.”

    Pointing out that male circumcision and FGM are not morally equivalent is not the same as arguing that male circumcision is OK, or that the consent issues are irrelevant. I don’t see why this is so hard to understand.

    For my own part, I completely agree that the routine circumcision of infants is wrong – but I also agree that it’s not morally equivalent to FGM. I’m capable of recognising differing degrees of wrongness.

  125. #125 Andrew Dodds
    November 14, 2008

    Dunc –

    The problem with arguing degrees in something like this is that you are still effectively justifying harm. Especially if the argument is that male circumcision is not as bad because it is normally done by doctors in hospitals, so if FGM was done under the same circumstances and reduced to a similar scope of operation, it would be morally equivilent. I would actually agree with this – similar scope of operation under similar conditions IS equivilent.

    You could argue that male circumcision in hospitals is actually worse; after all, doctors are meant to be the guardians of medical ethics, not some back street butcher in Cairo. As an analogy, you may say that stealing 1000 is worse than stealing 10.. but if the person stealing 1000 is a heroin addict and the person stealing 10 is a policeman, which represents the worse moral failing?

  126. #126 MH
    November 14, 2008

    Dunc, that’s why I asked this question of PalMD:

    So it’s not the practice of genital mutilation that you disagree with, but the extent? If FGM resulted in no more harm as MGM does, you’d be okay with it?

    I think this highlights the denialism of MGM advocates; if they answer “yes”, they are condoning FGM, which they know is wrong; if they answer “no”, then they are admiting that MGM is wrong.

    I have to say that I am very disappointed in PalMD for not even trying to address a fraction of the points raised by people who see all genital mutilation as ethically wrong. Instead we get ridicule and ad hominen, which are generally the hallmarks of a person who is aware that their position is indefensible.

  127. #127 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    Oversimplifying FGM into a single category makes it easy to say it’s worse than MGM. NOBODY is saying FGM consisting of clitoral removal AND stitching is equal (or worse) than standard western male circumcision. Show me a single person who has EVER said such nonsense! The fact that such an argument exists in favor of MGM shows the ignorance and stupidity of the pro MGM activists.

    Furthermore, calling those who want EQUAL rights for both sexes denialists, while preaching conspiracies in the eastern medical establishment against women, while ignoring the history of medicalized male circumcision makes one wonder who is more likely to be preaching a medical conspiracy.

    Funny how all the ad hominem attacks and name calling is coming from the pro MGM activists, while the logic, reason, and science lies somewhere in the middle, however acknowledging the hypocrisy and denial that festers among the pro MGM activists, hiding behind the western acceptance of this barbaric practice… only legally allowed behind religious protection, while the circumcised males take advantage of this protection to continue the practice, just as the circumcised female does to make sure it is done to her daughter(s).

    If you want to see real activist fervor, listen to the few (very few) doctors still promoting this practice, like Terry Russell. They get red in the face, with beads of sweat showing up on their foreheads, and claim we need to circumcise every newborn or humans will die. These guys are so frightened of being the last mutilated men it kills them. I don’t see any other subject getting a small few doctors bent out of shape to the point of lossing all reason and logic than the pro MGM doctors… interestingly almost entirely Muslim, Jewish, or located in the US or Australia. This kind of nonsense is almost nonexistant in Europe.

  128. #128 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    Correction from above:

    “equal (or worse)”

    should be…

    “equal (or less severe)”

  129. #129 Dan S.
    November 14, 2008

    So with its removal, does the whole thing stop working altogether?

    Wait, wait – are you saying the penis is . . .irreducibly complex?

  130. #130 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    “”So with its removal, does the whole thing stop working altogether?”

    Wait, wait – are you saying the penis is . . .irreducibly complex?”

    Is that some kind of attempt to say anyone not in favor of MGM is as crazy as a creationist?

    Let’s stick to the science and ethics please… and leave the attacks to the kiddies. You’re not making yourself look very good.

  131. #131 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    To whomever said the foreskin is “15 square inches”—-

    my. god.

  132. #132 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    “To whomever said the foreskin is “15 square inches”—-

    my. god.”

    ;)

  133. #133 Dunc
    November 14, 2008

    Andrew Dodds:

    The problem with arguing degrees in something like this is that you are still effectively justifying harm.

    Err, no, you’re not – except to people with a very poor grasp of logic or the English language. Saying “the Bloody Sunday massacre was not as bad as the Holocaust” does not justify the former in any way, it merely recognises a very real difference in degree.

    MH:

    I think this highlights the denialism of MGM advocates; if they answer “yes”, they are condoning FGM, which they know is wrong; if they answer “no”, then they are admiting that MGM is wrong.

    I have to say that I am very disappointed in PalMD for not even trying to address a fraction of the points raised by people who see all genital mutilation as ethically wrong. Instead we get ridicule and ad hominen, which are generally the hallmarks of a person who is aware that their position is indefensible.

    I don’t see anything here to indicate that PalMD is an “MGM advocate”. I don’t know, solely from this post, what his position on the subject is. Have I missed something? As far as I can see, the only position he has articulated here is that it’s not morally equivalent to the most common forms of FGM. That doesn’t necessarily imply that he’s for it. Having read the post and all of his subsequent comments quite carefully, it seems to me that he does acknowledge the very serious ethical problems with the practice. He just doesn’t think it’s morally equivalent to FGM.

    The fact that many apparently educated and intelligent people seem to assume that saying “male circumcision and female genital mutilation are not morally equivalent” implies “male circumcision ROCKS!” is, frankly, both worrying and disturbing.

  134. #134 Dunc
    November 14, 2008

    Ah, boo – what is it with the Sb stylesheet that you can’t split a blockquote over more than one para? The second para after “MH:” should also be quoted.

  135. #135 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    ONCE AGAIN… I’ll ask… Give me a link to ANYONE who has claimed that female clitoral removal plus sticking is equal or less severe than standard type male circumcision…? YOU CAN’T, because nobody has ever said that. This entire blog post is bullshit!

  136. #136 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    Oops… I hit “post” too soon (my cursor was hovering over the button).

    Nobody has EVER said this (as far as I can tell). The only argument is that CERTAIN TYPES of FGM are equal or less than standard western type male circumcision… and that both practices are barbaric and cruel.

    The purpose of this blog is to confuse, unless the blogger is really that ignorant of the topic he speaks of.

  137. #137 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    “sticking” should have been “stitching”

  138. #138 SLC
    November 14, 2008

    IMHO, this discussion of male circumcision is making a big deal out of a a minor issue. For those who are unaware of why New Years’ Day is on the 8th day after Christmas, it’s because Joshua of Nazareth underwent his ritual circumcision on that day. Based on what we know, there is no evidence that this operation caused him any concern in later life, nor is their any evidence that he addressed the issue in his many sermons of which we have some information. I suspect the reason is that he had other issues of more importance. I suggest that the commentors here who are so all fired bent out of shape over the issue of male circumcision follow the lead of Joshua of Nazareth and get a life!

  139. #139 MH
    November 14, 2008

    @Dunc,

    I’m assuming from what he has said so far that PalMD is comfortable with the routine circumcision of males. Does that make him an advocate? Well, does being comfortable with parents being allowed to tattoo their babies make such a person an advocate of infant tattooing? No, but I think you’d agree that such indifference would be both worrying and disturbing.

    Since he raised the subject, perhaps he would like to let us know his position, and also have a go at answering my question?

  140. #140 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    CLAIMS OF REASONS FOR CIRCUMCISION IN THE USA (history):
    1832: prevents nocturnal emissions
    1845: prevents masturbation
    1855: prevents syphilis
    1865: cures epilepsy
    1870: cures epilepsy
    1870: prevents spinal paralysis
    1871: Jews are immune to masturbation
    1873: cures bed wetting
    1875: cures curvature of the spine
    1875: cures paralysis of the bladder
    1875: cures clubfoot
    1879: cures nocturnal seminal emissions
    1879: curse abdominal neuralgia
    1881: cures eye problems
    1886: prevents crossed eyes
    1888: prevents masturbating
    1890: cures blindness
    1890: cures deafness
    1890: cures dumbness
    1891: “foreskin constitutes a harbor for filth”
    1891: “foreskin is a constant source of irritation”
    1891: conduces to masturbation
    1891: adds to the difficulties of sexual continence
    1894: circumcising Blacks prevents them from raping White women
    1894: cures urinary incontinence
    1894: cures rectal incontinence
    1900: needed to desensitize the penis
    1901: needed to desensitize the penis
    1902: foreskin causes epilepsy
    1914: Dr. Abraham L Wolbarst demands compulsory circumcision
    1914: prevents tuberculosis
    1926: prevents penile cancer.
    1930: Dr. Norton Henry Bare claims that he has cured a boy of epilepsy by circumcising him
    1932: prevents penile cancer
    1935: promotes chastity
    1941: blunts sexual sensitivity
    1941: foreskin must be forcibly retracted and scrubbed daily
    1942: prevents prostate cancer
    1949: prevents venereal disease
    1949: prevents cancer of the tongue
    1949: elimination of circumcisions in the United Kingdom
    1951: Abraham Ravich invents the falsehood that circumcision prevents cervical cancer in women.
    1953: creates immunity to all mental illness
    1954: prevents cervical cancer in women
    1969: cures masturbation
    1969: cures nervousness
    1971: prevents cancer of the bladder
    1971: prevents cancer of the rectum
    1973: “all who disagree with circumcision are mentally ill”
    1985: prevents urinary tract infections
    1986: prevents AIDS
    1988: prevents strept throat
    1989: Edgar J. Schoen declares circumcision is necessary
    1991: Edgar J. Schoen tries and fails to convince European countries to institute mass circumcision.
    1991: Aaron J. Fink declares mass circumcision is necessary to prevent sand from getting under soldiers’ foreskins.
    1993: Gerald N. Weiss declares that Langerhands cells in the foreskin lead to HIV infection.
    1997: Edgar J. Schoen tries and fails once again to convince European countries to institute mass circumcision.
    2003: Edgar J. Schoen steps up pressure on American Academy of Pediatrics to reverse its policy on circumcision, claiming that circumcision prevents AIDS.

    More claimed cures:
    alcoholism
    arthritic hips
    asthma
    balanitis
    bedwetting
    blindness
    boils
    cervical cancer
    chicken pox
    epididymitis
    epilepsy
    gallstones
    gout
    headaches
    hernia
    HIV
    HPV
    hydrocephaly
    hydrocoele
    hypertension
    insanity
    kidney disease
    kleptomaina
    leprosy
    moral depravity
    paraphimosis
    penile cancer
    plague
    phimosis
    posthitis
    prostate cancer
    rectal prolapse
    rheumatism
    schistosoma
    spinal curvature
    stomach infection
    tuberculosis
    urinary tract infections
    yeast infections.

  141. #141 Eryemil
    November 14, 2008

    Being from a country where circumcision is practically unheard of and having come in close personal contact with hundreds of cocks since I’ve been sexually active I thought I might as well throw some of my personal insight into the fray.

    On ethics alone, I very much believe that ANY kind of cosmetic surgery should be left of to each individual to decide on as adults. Gods know I’ve seen some pretty interesting body modifications. From castration to splitting of the glans, to piercings and penile bifurcation. I think I’ve pretty much seen it all and it bothers me not at all. I am a strong advocate for personal choice. I wouldn’t exactly put any of these anywhere near my mouth but that’s another subject altogether.

    This is the one key difference that puts me well against routine infant mutilation of any kind and it is a very important one.

    Intact adults can choose when, if and how to modify their bodies. For those for whom the choice has already been made there is no turning back. The penis, once modified cannot be turned back to its natural state.

    On a more personal note circumcision has always seemed a pretty risky deal to me. Having seem first hand all the ways it can go wrong. The disgusting scarring aside, I’ve seen perforation of the urethra, adhesions between the shaft skin and the glans, cocks bent out of shape because the shaft does not have enough skin to allow it to properly grow and a bunch of other weird things.

    I am pretty certain though (and the penis aficionados out there probably know what I am talking about) the most common and regrettable result seems to be the loss of sensitivity and colour as well as the difference in texture.

    Circumcised members all seem to have the same ashy, off white tone beyond the circumcision scar. Basically the mucosa that would normally be hidden under the foreskin. As if this skin as in a constant state of shedding, for lack of a better word. Not only does it lose its gloss and moisture it seems to get worse with age. Older men will be worse off on the texture and discoloration department to the point the surface of the glans feels almost calloused.

    I am obviously a biased source but if it is any help there is definitely, in my experience, a difference in sensitivity. I know it is usually a hot topic of debate every time this subject is brought up. One can definitely tell the difference after a while in terms of the reactions based on pressure and light touch.

    I’ve come across more than a few circumcised guys that had a lot of difficulty bringing themselves off or ejaculating in general, even during intercourse. Also men that complained about pain during masturbation and being handled, specially without lubricant.

    I thought I’d bring this perspective to the discussion though I frankly not sure that anyone will much care. Most heterosexual men have very little interest in penises beyond size and women in general do not care much either as long as they can make babies and stay hard long enough.

    So please, do not oppose circumcision for the sake of gay men everywhere (though I’d certainly be thankful). A person’s right to their own body should be enough I think.

  142. #142 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    “I suggest that the commentors here who are so all fired bent out of shape over the issue of male circumcision follow the lead of Joshua of Nazareth and get a life!”

    Religious teachings are not science… sorry. Maybe more American doctors should realize this as well.

  143. #143 Anonymous
    November 14, 2008

    I’m going to do something different than the rest here… I’m going to stick to SCIENCE and FACTS.

    Male Glans (head): 4,000 nerve endings
    Female Clitoris: 8,000 nerve endings
    Male Foreskin: 20,000 nerve endings

    The Male Glans:
    Contains about 4,000 nerve endings, but they are pressure/pain-sensitive, not touch sensitive. These pain-sensitive nerves are called “Free Nerves”

    Male Foreskin:
    Contains about 20,000 nerve endings which are extremely touch sensitive (like the female clitoris). These touch-sensitive nerves are called “Meissner’s Corpuscles”

    “Circumcision cuts off ‘more than 3 feet of veins, arteries and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves, and 20,000 nerve endings”
    (Fleiss 1997: 5)

    If you are circumcised, your nerves are pressure nerves, not touch nerves, so you are unable to ever feel true touch, only pressure. This is one of the reasons circumcised males tend to focus on getting to the orgasm instead of enjoying the sensation, and is also a reason so many circumcised males prefer anal sex (tighter = more pressure).

    Interestingly European males tend to last longer and have less erectile issues than American males, and 95% of European males are NOT circumcised.

    Let’s read some science articles, shall we?

    —————————————————————————–
    “Williams & Kapila estimated the incidence of complications at 10%; In the survey by Kim & Pang, 48% reported decreased masturbatory pleasure, 63% reported increased masturbatory difficulty, and 20% reported a worsened sex life after circumcision.

    Williams N, Kapila L. Complications of circumcision. Brit J Surg 1993;80:1231-6.
    Kim D, Pang M. Effect of male circumcision on sexuality. BJU Int 2006 Published on line ahead of print. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06646.x

    —————————————————————————–
    “There were no significant differences in sexual drive, erection, ejaculation, & ejaculation latency time between circumcised and uncircumcised men. However, there was a decrease in masturbatory pleasure & sexual enjoyment after circumcision, due to loss of nerve endings.”

    Williams N, Kapila L. Complications of circumcision. Brit J Surg 1993;80:1231-6.
    Kim D, Pang M. Effect of male circumcision on sexuality. BJU Int 2006 doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06646.x

    —————————————————————————–
    “The five most sensitive areas of the penis are on the foreskin.”

    Sorrels, Morris; James L. Snyder, Mark D. Reiss, Christopher Eden, Marilyn F. Milos, Norma Wilcox and Robert S. Van Howe. (2007). “Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis”. BJUINTERNATIONAL 99: 864869.

    —————————————————————————–
    “The transitional region from the external to the internal prepuce is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis and more sensitive than the most sensitive region of the circumcised penis.”

    L. Sorrells, James L. Snyder, Mark D. Reiss, Christopher Eden, Marilyn F. Milos, Norma Wilcox, Robert S. Van Howe (2007) Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis
    BJU International 99 (4) , 864869 doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06685.x

    —————————————————————————–
    “There ia a decrease in masturbatory pleasure & sexual enjoyment after circumcision, indicating that adult circumcision adversely affects sexual function in many men, due to loss of nerve endings. There was no difference in sexual drive, erection, ejaculation, or ejaculation latency time between circumcised & uncircumcised men.”

    DaiSik Kim, Myung-Geol Pang (2006) Effect of male circumcision on sexuality BJU International (OnlineEarly Articles). doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06646.x

    —————————————————————————–
    In an American study of 123 men, Fink found that medically necessitated circumcision resulted in worsened erectile function and de-sensitization.

    Adult Circumcision Outcomes Study: Effect on Erectile Function, Penile Sensitivity, Sexual Activity and Satisfaction

    —————————————————————————–
    “The genitally intact male has thousands of fine touch receptors and other highly erogenous nerve endingsmany of which are lost to circumcision. Male circumcision may result in lifelong physical, sexual, and sometimes psychological harm.”

    Journal of Health Psychology An Interdisciplinary, International Journal Volume 07 Issue 03 – Publication Date: 1 May 2002 “Male Circumcision: Pain, Trauma and Psychosexual Sequelae” GREGORY J. BOYLE RONALD GOLDMAN J. STEVEN SVOBODA EPHREM FERNANDEZ

    —————————————————————————–
    “Adult circumcision appeared to have resulted in weakened erectile confidence, and difficult insertion.”

    Shen Z, Chen S, Zhu C, Wan Q, Chen Z (2004 Jan) Erectile function evaluation after adult circumcision. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, 10(1):189.

    —————————————————————————–
    “Circumcised men displayed a greater rate of anal intercourse, due to reduced sensativity of the penis”

    Laumann, EO, Masi CM, Zuckerman EW (1997) Circumcision in the United States: prevalence, prophylactic effects, and sexual practice. JAMA, 277(13):10527

    —————————————————————————–

  144. #144 SLC
    November 14, 2008

    Since Dr. PalMD is Jewish, I assume that he is circumcised. Does he agree with the claims being made by Mr. anonymous?

  145. #145 MH
    November 15, 2008

    I guess no answer is sometimes an answer in itself.

    Very disappointing, though.

  146. #146 DuWayne
    November 15, 2008

    Oh so late in the game but really pissed off by the 61 year old, who seems to think that I have a two minute, limp dick.

    For your information, I am quite capable of having the sex for extended periods of time and no viagra necessary thank you very much. Nope, I don’t know what I’m missing, never having had a foreskin, but I am quite happy with what I have and so have the various lovers I’ve pleased over the years.

    My partner and I chose not to clip our boys, because there seemed little reason to. About the only thing that circumcision seems to have going for it, is aesthetic value and some minor lessening of the risk of venereal diseases. Aesthetics isn’t worth it and rather than give them some notion that they have some special immunity to vd’s, we want to impart the importance of using condoms. Something that shouldn’t be much of an issue, considering the number of friends we have who are HIV positive and the few with full blown AIDS.

    But there would have been no guilt on our parts, had we chosen to have them circumcised. I have yet to meet anyone who has issues, because their dick was cut. And most everyone I grew up with is circumcised, the folks who weren’t were ostracised, when others noticed it in the locker room. Indeed, that consideration was part of our decision making process. Were it not for the fact that circumcision is becoming less of a default, we might have actually had it done to our boys. Because the last thing kids need is something else for their peers to harass them mercilessly about.

    This is such a batshit crazy thing to compare to female genital mutilation, it makes me ill. I have heard of no one, who has had any issues with Teh Sex, because their clipped. OTOH, female genital mutilation is specifically done to destroy female sexual pleasure. Get a fucking life.

  147. #147 Anonymous
    November 16, 2008

    DuWayne wrote:
    “female genital mutilation is specifically done to destroy female sexual pleasure. Get a fucking life.”

    I can see that you have not read the replies above yours.

  148. #148 TTT
    November 16, 2008

    It is well known that young blind children grow into adults with exceptionally fine senses of hearing. What if, in a similar fashion, the nerves elsewhere on a circ’ed infant’s penis will grow or in some way modify their sensations–and end up feeling the same thing that uncirc’ed men feel? I am not talking about men who were circ’ed in adulthood. How could it ever be possible to establish just who feels how much?

  149. #149 DuWayne
    November 16, 2008

    Because I certainly don’t need to wade through the tons of garbage you posted. I read several of your comments including your response to that. Don’t fucking buy it and don’t feel that your bullshit about folks like me being incapable lovers makes you really worth the time. You are so full of shit, I can smell you from here.

  150. #150 Anonymous
    November 16, 2008

    You are so full of shit, I can smell you from here.

    No, that’s the smegma that they keep going on about

  151. #151 Anonymous
    November 16, 2008

    “female genital mutilation is specifically done to destroy female sexual pleasure. Get a fucking life.”

    “Because I certainly don’t need to wade through the tons of garbage you posted. I read several of your comments including your response to that.”
    –DuWayne

    you clearly didn’t read the posts in which it says that male circumcision has been done in the past specifically to control male sexual activity.
    you are also incorrect that female circumcision is done only as a way of controlling the sexuality of women. it is done for various reasons cultural, superstitious, and religious depending on the region.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_circumcision#Cultural_and_religious_aspects

    female and male circumcision are similar in some ways and different in others. the two ways I find most interesting is that both are irrational child mutilation, and it would seem that spurious justifications are attempted for both in the cultures where they occur.

  152. #152 DuWayne
    November 16, 2008

    Actually, yes I did catch that. Don’t really buy it, as it doesn’t apply today. Circumcision doesn’t cause an inability to enjoy sex. Done “right” I imagine it could, but doing that today, in the U.S., would be a crime.

    And as I mentioned, I am not trying to justify it – I fucking well didn’t have either of my boys circumcised. I just don’t care for fanatical, exaggerated bullshit. And I really don’t care for the asinine notion that those of us lacking a foreskin are somehow unable to fuck very well. And even worse, you try to compare something that most of us had done to us, because it was thought to be sanitary and safer, to female genital mutilation. And given that my dad had it done when he was twelve, because of an infection, the sanitary reasoning isn’t total bullshit either.

  153. #153 BDwyer
    November 17, 2008

    How would your attitude towards female genital cutting change if a doctor had cut off your mother’s labia minor when she was twelve because of an infection?

  154. #154 Anonymous
    November 17, 2008

    “Don’t fucking buy it and don’t feel that your bullshit about folks like me being incapable lovers makes you really worth the time. You are so full of shit, I can smell you from here.”

    wtF are you talking about?! Relax… And who ever said such a thing?

  155. #155 Anonymous
    November 17, 2008

    “No, that’s the smegma that they keep going on about”

    You guys are only strengthening the point, that you have no argument, only insults.

  156. #156 Anonymous
    November 17, 2008

    This is EXACTLY why circumcision continues today… Nobody who was circumcised wants to talk about it, and MORE SO… nobody who was circumcised wants to hear about it. Listen, I AM SORRY, ok… but that is NOT an excuse to shut up and let others sexually mutilate children… male OR female! No amount of “that hurts my feelings” is enough to make it ok to shut up and let more children get hurt.

    And no… nobody said you were bad in bed… don’t take is so damn personal. This is a BIG DEAL and a BIG PROBLEM… I know you don’t want it to be, but it is.

  157. #157 DuWayne
    November 17, 2008

    Umm, yes someone did – I assumed you were the same anon;

    For all of those limp dicked 2 minute men out there who do not have the benefit of a foreskin, it is important to note–even if well paid denialist doctors don’t–that the foreskin (and I can only speak for myself, really) is chock full-o’ sensitive nerves and such that enhance sexual pleasure, and that the unclipped dick has the capability to feel different feelings than the clipped cock( without elaborating, because ppl like PalMd, et al up there think male sexual responses are gross, icky, and strictly regulated by terms like “medical consequence,” and secondary to female sexual or medical responses).

    If two minute men and late age male inability to perform aren’t enough reasons, I don’t know what are. But maybe the good MD has some $Viagr$ to pimp you with.

    Whether or not you get it, and sidestepping your kinds usual male bashing or male diminishing attitude which cries “yuck! Men are gross,men are pigs, women rulle,” etc., the foreskin ( and really, what do you know about them anyways–you don’t have one) is really there for a reason, just like labia majora.

    Posted by: Anonymous | November 12, 2008 6:46 PM

  158. #158 Andrew Dodds
    November 17, 2008

    Dunc –

    As far as you analogy goes, you would have to add that the genocide was done whilst the government officially disapproved whilst the bombing was done deliberately by the government with no apology or contrition. Otherwise the analogy would be incorrect.

    My position is that if we are to make equivilence, then a technically more minor crime performed by a person who has a duty to uphold the law certainly IS as bad as a more major crime comitted out of superstution and ignorance.

    I know I bang on about this, but is just seems really simple to me – if it wasn’t a traditional practice and someone suddenly suggested it, they’d be laughed at. Then struck off, of course.

  159. #159 asdf
    November 17, 2008

    “This is such a batshit crazy thing to compare to female genital mutilation, it makes me ill. I have heard of no one, who has had any issues with Teh Sex, because their clipped. OTOH, female genital mutilation is specifically done to destroy female sexual pleasure. Get a fucking life.”

    Actually it isn’t a crazy thing to compare to female circumcision.
    This quote from a doctor on wiki is quote relevant:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_circumcision#Female_circumcision
    “…I think there are similarities and then there are differences. I think the people who say that there are no similarities are people who don�t want to address male circumcision basically.”
    Both are needless child mutilation. This is obvious, and just because your feelings are hurt it doesn’t mean female/male circ are all that dissimilar.

    “OTOH, female genital mutilation is specifically done to destroy female sexual pleasure. Get a fucking life.”
    Male circ was historically only maintained for periods of time because people believe this, and many people the world over probably still believe this and continue to cut males because of it.

    And again, female circumcision is done the world over for many reasons besides controlling the sex drive of femeales:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_circumcision#Cultural_and_religious_aspects

    For example, “because it was thought to be sanitary and safer,”. There is a list of reasons given just like for male circ, and all are spurious.

    Also, when you say “I just don’t care for fanatical, exaggerated bullshit.”, do you mean this fanatical, exaggerated child abuse:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaFtcIrtbm0

    again, sorry your manhood was insulted by the foreskin comments(not me btw, im circumcised and also have no problems sexually. not sure what these uncut guys are on about).

  160. #160 Thoughtful_Joe
    November 17, 2008

    The Europeans can be such sensible people.
    Danish: http://politiken.dk/indland/article598772.ece
    English: http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/article598875.ece

    Male circumcision should be cut. 17/11/2008

    While there are laws preventing female genital mutilation in Denmark, there are none preventing male genital mutilation. Demands for action.

    The Children’s Council and the Chair of the Ethical Council say it is objectionable and ethically indefensible that while there is a law preventing female genital mutilation, no such law exists for males.

    Both the Jewish, Muslim and other traditions call for the circumcision of males. In Denmark, the Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner carries out the circumcision of Jewish boys. Muslim circumcisions are often carried out in clinics or hospitals.

    Religious links
    The Children’s Council Chair Charlotte Guldberg says the practice should be stopped.

    “There is a deep problem here. Society is in no doubt that the genital mutilation of girls is unacceptable – but we accept it with boys and have tolerated it for many years because it is linked to religion. It is gender discrimination from birth that we make a distinction between boys and girls,” says Gulberg, who adds that circumcision should be banned for boys under 15 years of age. According to tradition, young Jewish boys are circumcised at the age of eight days.

    Voice
    The Ethical Council does not have a general view of circumcision, although Chairman Peder Agger does not immediately reject the notion of legislation.

    “There is an ethical problem. I would prefer people to wait until the child is 15, thus respecting his right to choose and so that he knows what is going on. I believe that one should not undertake physical procedures that leave lasting scars or have lasting effect until a child is 15. And there should be some discussion as to whether the procedure should be ritualised in another way. In Denmark we have also stopped putting a child’s head completely under water during baptism,” says Agger.

    Symbolic
    In the United States there is an increasing tendency to carry out symbolic male circumcision by simply pricking the foreskin to draw blood. But in Denmark, as in many other countries, boys have the entire foreskin removed.

    Covenant
    In the religious tradition, circumcision is part of the covenant reported between God and Abraham. The relevant passage regarding Abraham is found in Genesis 17: 9-14 and reads:

    “Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner–those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

    Violation
    Nonetheless, religions cannot set themselves outside norms and violate a child’s physical integrity according to Kirsten Ketscher, Professor of Social Law at Copenhagen University. She tells Kristeligt Dagblad that the procedure should wait until a child is old enough to decide itself.

    Reject
    Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner, who has received special training in the procedure, rejects both the idea of a legal ban and the introduction of symbolic circumcision.

    “Jews have been fighting for many years to maintain the tradition, as it is a sign of Jewish identity. Even among Jewish families who do not live according to Jewish practice there are only very few who do not have their children circumcised. If you want to be part of the Jewish people, you have to fulfill precisely that rule. Getting rid of circumcision would be the same as removing baptism from the Christian faith,” says Chief Rabbi Lexner.

    Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen says that parents exert their decisions on children in many other issues also.

    “They decide what clothes children have to wear so they aren’t bullied. And if children are to be able to decide, why shouldn’t they be able to decide themselves whether to be baptised,” the Imam tells Kristeligt Dagblad.

    There are some Christian directions and sects who practice circumcision. These are predominantly the Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox churches.

    Edited by Julian Isherwood

  161. #161 James T
    November 17, 2008

    Oh, PalMD is Jewish. That explains a lot. He seems very immature and has a large degree of cognitive dissonance. Or maybe not, maybe Jews don’t get cognitive dissonance. Considering Jews are largely to blame for popularizing circumcision, maybe they have this immense belief:
    “Circumcision can’t be bad (as these non-Jews keep telling me), it is OK because my God in the sky says it is good and he is all-knowing and infallible, therefore there is no need to listen to their arguments.”

    To the guy above who lit this fuse, and then sat back and ate his popcorn:
    “Having observed many discussions on this topic, the common thread, more often than not, is veiled antisemitism.”

    No. That is incorrect. If Jews didn’t circumcise I wouldn’t have a problem. Circumcision in a religious ceremony is no worse or better than circumcision at a hospital. They are both stupid.

    How many Jewish atheists are there? A lot:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Jewish_atheists
    And those are just a few famous ones, there are many more. So why should they have part of their body removed without their consent? Why should their foreskins have been sacrificed to an imaginary God which they do not believe in?

  162. #162 RickyM
    November 17, 2008

    Hmmm …. the anonymous poster above states “the unclipped dick has the capability to feel different feelings than the clipped cock.” Now, this leads me to wonder how he knows this. Does he have two of them? One clipped and one not??

    And, also, just out of curiosity … what’s “ketou”? I mean, other than a Yoruba town in Benin. I refer to the phrase “*ketou to the AMA’s religious dictum to keep the penis strictly procreative.*” Aside from not understanding what this person is talking about, since when does the AMA have a “religious dictum” …. and what the hell is a “religious dictum” anyway?? I’ve heard of religious doctrines and I’ve heard of dictum (as part of a legal opinion), but really …. what the hell does this person mean??

    As for all of you who are really fond of the smell/taste/feel of smegma … I’m so very happy for you. I can’t stand the stuff myself, so I’ll pass on getting to know the gents who have it any better than a simple handshake.

  163. #163 sirius
    November 17, 2008

    The neat thing is that people are talking about circumcision on the internet. Public discussion about genital surgery, performed mostly on non-consenting minors, was impossible just a few years ago. Here’s an example of communication technology changing cultural norms in a very short time. When circumcision was secret and beyond public debate and scrutiny, it was self-perpetuating, passed on from one generation to the next, like some sort of cultural disease. But clearly a lot of men – and women – have decided that the forced amputation of their sexual tissue was not in their best interest, and that is good enough reason to stop it. And not too surprisingly, some men and women have decided it must be done to the next generation – after all, that is how it was always done.

  164. #164 james T
    November 17, 2008

    RickyM: “As for all of you who are really fond of the smell/taste/feel of smegma … I’m so very happy for you. I can’t stand the stuff myself, so I’ll pass on getting to know the gents who have it any better than a simple handshake.”

    Are you gay then? The reason I ask is:
    1)You imply you would like to get to know uncut guys more intimately than a mere handshake.
    2)You are circumcised yet you can’t stand smegma. How would you know that if you hadn’t been in contact with another male’s genitalia?

  165. #165 Anonymous
    November 17, 2008

    Get past the smegma thing already. Smegma is not a foreskin thing, it can accumulate ANYWHERE on your body, and it’s FAR more common in the female vagina than an intact penis. It’s just dead skin cells, and it washes right off. But you’re never gonna see it unless you go a week or two without a shower… so why in the hell even worry about this? It’s a dumb argument, from either side.

    The benefits of foreskin are the 20,000 nerve endings that are in it. A circumcised penis only has about 4,000 nerve endings. So if you were cut, you now only have 20% of the feeling you could have had. Don’t justifiy it to make it ok, fight against it so it doesn’t happen to others!

  166. #166 Earthling Two
    November 17, 2008

    Hey, I can post quotes from scientific articles that only corroborate one side of the debate as well:

    —————————————————————————–

    “Adult male circumcision was not associated with sexual dysfunction. Circumcised men reported increased penile sensitivity and enhanced ease of reaching orgasm.”

    Krieger, J.N., et al. (2008). “Adult Male Circumcision: Effects on Sexual Function and Sexual Satisfaction in Kisumu, Kenya”. J Sex Med. 5(11):2610-22.

    —————————————————————————–
    “”Routine neurologic testing for both exteroceptive and light tactile discrimination were conducted on the ventral and dorsal surfaces of the penile body, with particular attention directed toward the glans. No clinically significant difference could be established between the circumcised and the uncircumcised glans during these examinations.”

    Masters, W.H. and Johnson, V.E. (1966). Human Sexual Response. Toronto; New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-20429-7.

    —————————————————————————–
    “No valid evidence to date, however, supports the notion that being circumcised affects sexual sensation or satisfaction.”

    Circumcision: Position Paper on Neonatal Circumcision. (2007). American Academy of Family Physicians.

    —————————————————————————–
    “In our study of neonatally circumcised men, we demonstrated that circumcision status does not significantly alter the quantitative somatosensory testing results at the glans penis.”

    Bleustein, C.B., et al. (2005). “Effect of neonatal circumcision on penile neurologic sensation”. Urology 65(4):773-7.

    —————————————————————————–
    “No differences in genital sensitivity were found between the uncircumcised and circumcised groups.”

    Payne, K., et al. (2007). “Sensation and Sexual Arousal in Circumcised and Uncircumcised Men”. Journal of Sexual Medicine 4(3):667-674.

    —————————————————————————–
    “Circumcision was unrelated to most sexual difficulties, but circumcised men were less likely to report physical pain during intercourse or trouble keeping an erection…”

    Richters, J., et al. (2006). “Circumcision in Australia: prevalence and effects on sexual health”. International Journal of Sexually Transmissible Diseases and AIDS 17: 547-554.

    —————————————————————————–
    “Adult circumcision does not adversely affect sexual function. The increase in the ejaculatory latency time can be considered an advantage rather than a complication.”

    Senkul, T., et al. (2004). “Circumcision in Adults: Effect on Sexual Function”. Urology 63(1):155-8.

    —————————————————————————–
    “However uncircumcised men appear slightly more likely to to experience sexual dysfunctions, especially later in life.”

    Laumann, E.O., et al. (1997). “Circumcision in the United States: prevalence, prophylactic effects, and sexual practice”. JAMA 277 (13): 1052-1057.

    —————————————————————————–
    “Adult male circumcision does not adversely affect sexual satisfaction or clinically significant function in men.”

    Kigozi, G., et al. (2007). “The effect of male circumcision on sexual satisfaction and function, results from a randomized trial of male circumcision for human immunodeficiency virus prevention, Rakai, Uganda”. BJU International 101(1):65-70.

  167. #167 Anonymous
    November 18, 2008

    how proud you must feel…

    honestly, if you have ever been any bit involved in this practice, you should be in fucking jail. hope you feel really good about yourself now.

  168. #168 DuWayne
    November 18, 2008

    It would be exceedingly helpful if the anonymous morans would at least use pseudonyms, so we can differentiate between them. Especially is they are going to engage in hyperbole.

  169. #169 freedom0f5peech
    November 19, 2008

    You want to justify it because it happened to you. Nobody is saying you remember it, or that you are suffering. I’m sick of the pro-circ claiming this nonsense simply to add a laugh and feel better. Everyone knows you don’t remember it, and you only know what you have… and nobody is saying you are bad at sex.

    It’s simple. The foreskin has 80% of the nerves of the penis… so why take it away? Because those who have foreskin can get cancer? You (as a man) are more likely to get breast cancer. The arguments for it are absurd.

    Regarding the tests that show no lack of sensitivity in circumcised males. 100% of those studies ignored the foreskin (only testing the shaft and glans)! Why? What is the point of the test if you ignore the foreskin?

    It takes a man that is very secure and strong to admit that he lost something. You don’t have to say you have a problem, you probably don’t… that’s not the point… the point is that you are unable to feel what you could (80% of your feeling is gone), and you should not use your ego to force it on others, but instead use your empathy to make sure it does not happen to newborns!

    Circumcised women in Africa say they are happy about it, and that they havent lost anything. Sure, its different in some ways (depending on how its done)… but doesnt that sound familiar? Thats exactly what you are saying.

    ——————————————————
    Female circumcision does not reduce sexual activity

    12:30 24 September 2002
    NewScientist news service
    Emma Young

    “Circumcised women experience sexual arousal and orgasm as frequently as uncircumcised women, according to a study in Nigeria.”
    ——————————————————

  170. #170 DuWayne
    November 19, 2008

    Umm, freedomof5peech, if you’re addressing me, you must have missed most of what I wrote. First, yes there are folks making the claim that folks lacking a foreskin are bad at the sex. Second, I have two boys, neither of whom is circumcised, so try again there. Finally, you are talking to someone who really has no insecurity issues whatever – never had. I don’t think I really lost anything, or at least anything important, because I really didn’t. Nor am I trying to justify anything, just because it happened to me – but thanks for the psychoanalysis. You did a bang-up job, really.

    I am not an advocate for circumcision in the least, I am just tired of the bullshit hyperbole that has been thrown around in this thread and others like it. Such as the moron (moran?) above my last comment. Or the jackass who was in fact claiming that men lacking a foreskin, are two minute men, who can’t fuck. Or the folks that want to compare female genital mutilation with circumcision.

    Now it may well be true that some forms of female circumcision don’t cause sexual dysfunction for the women so circumcised. It’s irrelevant. Female genital mutilation occurs with great frequency in certain cultures and most certainly does cause such dysfunction. When the clitoris is cut out and the labia sewn shut (usually by the mother, iirc), there are going to be serious sexual repercussions. And no, there is absolutely no comparison to the practice of sanitary, safe male circumcision as practiced in the U.S.

    I would also note that the arguments for it are not all necessarily absurd. One major consideration we took into account, was the fact that my old man was uncircumcised. He got an infection when he was twelve and had a medically necessary circumcision. I, OTOH, was circumcised at birth. I have absolutely no memory of being circumcised – my old man does. He remembers it as the most traumatizing experience of his life, more than when he suffered a broken leg and broken arm, along with four fractured ribs. If it is likely to be necessary, infancy is the time to do it.

    Fortunately, we are well aware of the problems that led to his needing a circumcision – he wasn’t, which is why it happened. It was a virtual miracle that it didn’t happen before it did, because no one told him or his mother, that being more careful to keep it clean, is exceedingly important. So that ultimately didn’t fly with us. But it certainly wasn’t bullshit to consider it.

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