Mike the Mad Biologist

Banning Male Circumcision? Really?

Every so often I read on the internets about people who are really upset about circumcision. Oddly, it’s compared to female genital mutilation (I’ll get to that in a bit). But in San Francisco, there’s actually an attempt to make banning circumcision a referendum item:

Most bans in San Francisco are enacted by the Board of Supervisors, but come November, it sounds like voters will have the opportunity to jump on the ban wagon by deciding whether to ban male circumcision.

San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield said Thursday he is “on track” to have enough signatures to place his proposed measure on the November ballot that would make it illegal to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.”

…Schofield said he became the proponent of the local ballot measure after being asked to champion a local bill during a July symposium on circumcision held at the UC Berkeley. Schofield said he was approached by those affiliated with a group pushing for a federal bill to “end male genital mutilation in the U.S.,” according to its website, mgmbill.org.

He said he thought about it for two weeks and then decided to do it. “I always knew this was something wrong to do to a child,” he said.

…”We say: ‘Would you like to help protect the children from forced circumcision? This is a human-rights issue,'” Schofield said.

The proposed measure would assess of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail for someone who performs a circumcision.

Being Jewish, well, it’s pretty clear my human rights have been violated. Or something.

I’ve never understood why people get worked up over male circumcision. It’s not like the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation. It’s not about controlling (or eliminating) a person’s sexuality.

In terms of the, erm, mechanics, things work just fine. To the extent that I or a significant other don’t think things are working fine, the presence or absence of a foreskin isn’t really the issue.

This is crazy (and again, generations of Jews would be absolutely confused as to why this would even be an issue based on their own experiences).

I can’t wait to be called a foreskin denialist….

A serious aside: There’s compelling evidence that circumcision helps lower the rate of HIV transmission. Nothing like medically-related idiocy to kill people….

Comments

  1. #1 Robert B
    May 3, 2011

    Ugh, you stepped in it now.

    FWIW, I agree with you, and think that anti-circ activists really think way too much about other people’s penises. I read a metric crapload of papers on circumcision a few years ago on health risks and benefits and think that the cost/benefit ratio is about even for and against circumcision, with the HIV data pushing it to a positive in areas where HIV is prevalent.

  2. #2 Mike Keesey
    May 3, 2011

    Yes, get your baby’s wiener snipped and he’ll never get HIV!

    There are much, much better ways of preventing HIV. (Like, don’t have sex with someone who has HIV.) However, if that’s one of the methods you want to add to your arsenal, you should of course be allowed to do it. But it should be a decision you make, not one other people made for you. (After all, it’s irreversible.)

    An age limit of 18 is ridiculous, but 13 might work.

  3. #3 Pud Puller
    May 3, 2011

    Just so you understand what the Federal US law is protecting girls is:

    Title 18 – Crimes and Criminal Procedure; Part I – Crimes; Chapter 7 – Assault
    Section 116 – Female genital mutilation

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
    (b) A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if the operation is–
    (1) necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner; or
    (2) performed on a person in labor or who has just given birth and is performed for medical purposes connected with that labor or birth by a person licensed in the place it is performed as a medical practitioner, midwife, or person in training to become such a practitioner or midwife.

    (c) In applying subsection (b)(1), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that person, or any other person, that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.

    Mike, since you’re a biologist, you’ll know in males, the “labia minora” are the “scrotum” and the “clitoris” is the “penis” and the “clitoral hood” is the “foreskin”. Make the appropriate substitutions, and you’ll get the idea. As far as your “religious beliefs” are concerned, check out section (c), which applies to rituals.

  4. #4 Tantalus Prime
    May 3, 2011

    Yes, you stepped in it. Expect a flood of comments.

    While the circumcision/HIV link is compelling it is unclear whether it is limited in scope to particular populations/modes of transmission. I agree with Robert B that for the most part the health benefits of circumcision appear to be a wash. So I would go for the first do no harm principle.

    I would like to see routine neonatal circumcision go the way of the dodo, but I don’t believe legislation is the way to do it.

  5. #5 JoeKaistoe
    May 3, 2011

    From everything I’ve read on the health benefits, there seems to be no medically beneficial reason for circumcision shortly after birth in areas with easily available sanitation and birth control (first world countries). There is also the issue of nerve endings on the foreskin, which is removed. Rumour has it that widespread circumcision in the US was promoted by the church to stop masturbation (or make it less pleasurable), so, if true, that would make it an attempt at controlling sexuality.

    All things being equal, it generally comes down to whether you think I should be able tattoo the word “Johnson” on a newborn’s penis, because the doctor suggests it, or my religion says I have to. It’s essentially the same decision as circumcision, but considered rediculous because it’s not culturally normal.

  6. #6 Ken
    May 3, 2011

    “…circumcision helps lower the rate of HIV transmission.”

    Yeah. That’s why circumcisions are performed on infants. The Jewish God sure had some foreskin foresight there.

    The procedure is not at all medically relevant, and is performed on an infant. Cutting off the foreskins of infants for religious purposes sure doesn’t sound like a good rational idea. I’m not sure I would like people giving their babies tattoos soon after birth for religious reasons either.

    Since there is no lasting harm (beyond the psychological harm of being indoctrinated into a cult from infancy, which applies to all religions), I just don’t see this as being an issue that the government should get involved in. In fact, because the purposes are religious, the American government in particular is barred from getting involved unless there is clear harm being done.

    I may not like it, but that’s different from wanting the government ban it.

    Of course, if boys were required wait until an age of reason before deciding, there would be far fewer observant Jewish men in the world. Circumcising adult men was, after all, a significant contributing factor in the rise of a competing religion 2000 years ago. That certainly has had mixed results.

  7. #7 G.Shelley
    May 3, 2011

    It is painful surgery on a newborn with no demonstrated medical benefits, other than lowering of transmission rates for one particular STI in parts of Africa. If it wasn’t so culturally accepted, it wouldn’t be an issue and could very easily be made illegal, but unfortunately, there is next to chance of this passing. People are not willing to accept that they harmed their child for absolutely no reason other than comsetic ones.
    On the comparison to female circumcision, this is banned completely so even the more or less analogous types of non medical procedure, such as a genital nick (not entirely analogous as the effects and damage are much less than with male circumcision) are illegal. The AAP recently advocated changing stance on this
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/health/policy/07cuts.html

  8. #8 Matt
    May 3, 2011

    Just because you don’t know what you’re missing doesn’t meant you’re not missing anything.

  9. #9 Matt
    May 3, 2011

    I suppose, to be a little more productive in my conversation:

    URL in sig for contradiction of Mike’s “mechanics” claim.

    Citation [2] therein provides a direct contradiction to Mike’s “it’s not controlling”.

  10. #10 Narad
    May 3, 2011

    In terms of the, erm, mechanics, things work just fine.

    The stock response is that you have to tell yourself this to repress the trauma you’ve been subjected to and avoid confronting the feelings of betrayal that would inevitably ensue.

  11. #11 Jack
    May 3, 2011

    Actually baby boy penis part removal should already be considered illegal under the 1996 federal law banning genital cutting — 14th Amendment equal protection clause.Those saying that preventing the cutting off of penis parts of a baby boy violates the cutter’s freedom of religion, are way out there in rational land. One’s religion ends where their knife touches another human’s body. The idea that another human’s ritual trumps ones right to body parts is insane and creepy.Baby boy penis parts removal cuts off thousands of fine touch and stretch nerves. This is like disconnecting the fingertips or lips from the brain. No human should be subjected to sensory system harm as well as a forced decrease of sexual function and PLEASURE for life!

  12. #12 Jack
    May 3, 2011

    Actually baby boy penis part removal should already be considered illegal under the 1996 federal law banning genital cutting — 14th Amendment equal protection clause.Those saying that preventing the cutting off of penis parts of a baby boy violates the cutter’s freedom of religion, are way out there in irrational land. One’s religion ends where their knife touches another human’s body. The idea that another human’s ritual trumps ones right to body parts is insane and creepy. Baby boy penis parts removal cuts off thousands of fine touch and stretch nerves. This is like disconnecting the fingertips or lips from the brain. No human should be subjected to sensory system harm as well as a forced decrease of sexual function and PLEASURE for life!

  13. #13 Poweslave
    May 3, 2011

    I must confess, every time I hear about how much sensation and pleasure my circumcised penis is missing out on I can’t help but wonder why MORE would be a desirable objective. I’m afraid it would simply make for an all too ephemeral enterprise.

  14. #14 Poweslave
    May 3, 2011

    I must confess, every time I hear about how much sensation and pleasure my circumcised penis is missing out on I can’t help but wonder why MORE would be a desirable objective. I’m afraid it would simply make for an all too ephemeral enterprise.

  15. #15 Ca
    May 3, 2011

    I think it’s honestly hard to argue that it isn’t a form of mutilation, even if it has practical advantages. Then again earrings and tattoos are mutilation too. The difference is those getting them usually get a choice and hopefully are mature enough to make that choice.

    I’m not actually weighing heavily in one direction or the other. We went back and forth with our son and are still ambivalent about our decision.

    That said, forgetting potential pain – here’s a question:

    Would anyone later in life be likely to choose circumcision voluntarily?

    I think the obvious answer says a lot.

  16. #16 Chris
    May 3, 2011

    Let’s not forget that circumcision helps prevent transmission of HPV by up to 28% according to a study in The Lancet. This in turn, lowers a female partner’s risk of developing cervical cancer.

  17. #17 Narad
    May 3, 2011

    Would anyone later in life be likely to choose circumcision voluntarily?

    I think the obvious answer says a lot.

    No more than the answer to the question whether anyone later in life would be likely to choose to suddenly regrow a foreskin.

  18. #18 Art
    May 3, 2011

    At the risk of TMI.

    Deprived of a foreskin I can’t say as I’ve missed it much. Anecdotal as it may be, reporting by sexual partners, they all seem to agree: circumcised men seem to enjoy sex about as much as uncircumcised men, the circumcised men tend to last a little longer on average during vaginal intercourse, and performing oral sex on a circumcised penis is generally viewed as more aesthetically pleasing.

    A little known observation: nurses call circumcised penises ‘helmet heads’ and un-circumcised ones ‘turtlenecks’. Might need to know that for Jeopardy.

  19. #19 Katharine
    May 3, 2011

    Mike is, of course, inherently biased in this argument.

    Seriously, there’s something pretty wrong about cutting into any part of a nonconsenting human being for non-surgical purposes; I don’t give a shit if your religious beliefs, which are clearly fucking wacky if they call for this, require it, your religious rights stop at the next person’s body.

  20. #20 Johanobesus
    May 3, 2011

    As a child I suffered several bouts of tonsillitis. After the second one my mother asked the doctor to take them out and he refused. He said the expense and pain of the procedure outweighed the the benefit. If my tonsils got bad enough to be life threatening they could be removed, but until then antibiotics would be enough, and I probably wouldn’t have to go through the ailment too many times in my life.

    From what I understand, while tonsils are part of the immune system, they aren’t very important. People without tonsils are not prone to a greater number of more severe illnesses. A tonsillectomy is not a complex operation. My great grandmother had one with no anesthesia while sitting on a stool. It may be more invasive than circumcision, but then it doesn’t take away any pleasure, and tonsillitis can potentially be fatal. I am not aware that European Gentiles have an epidemic of UTI’s and yeast and fungal infections, and circumcision does not make one immune to STD’s, especially if one likes something other than vaginal intercourse. If prevention is a good enough rational to remove the foreskin, it should also be enough to justify taking the tonsils so a child will never suffer tonsillitis, or toenails so he will never have an ingrown nail or a fungal infection of the nail bed.

    I’m not traumatized by being cut. I have no resentment towards my parents for following the doctor’s advice. I think it’s silly when I see men on the T.V. crying over it and whining about how they were betrayed. None-the-less I do wish I had been given a choice about it, and I wonder what I might be missing. The medical rationals are mostly B.S. to justify a tradition that for some has religious significance. If your religion mandates it, let the guy choose it as an adult. I am not passionate about the issue, but I have no problem with forbidding involuntary circumcisions for non-medical purposes.

  21. #21 Adrian Simmons
    May 3, 2011

    @Chris There’s a vaccine available for HPV. Vaccinating boys, as well as girls (NHS recently started vaccinating girls here in the UK http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hpv-vaccination/pages/introduction.aspx?WT.mc_id=090805) would reduce HPV risks way more than cutting baby boys penises.

    I also really wonder how much male sexual dysfunction, minor and major, happens as a result – its the sort of thing that goes under reported.

    I’m with Katherine. This is a whacky practice with a basis in religious culture, there really is no good reason to circumcise babies or children and few adult males would do it voluntarily.

    There is clearly a cultural acceptance of this in certain countries, as there is for female mutilation, that doesn’t make either of them right.

  22. #22 PatrikD
    May 3, 2011

    Would you support it if there were a cult that performed, say, a ritualistic branding of babies? Or maybe cutting off their earlobes? Neither of which are likely to lead to any lasting functional impairment. Heck, maybe they might be able to come up with some scientific studies showing that cutting off earlobes results in a very small decrease of ear infections (although that’s clearly not the primary reason for the practice).

    Same difference…

  23. #23 stripey_cat
    May 3, 2011

    Here in the UK, tattooing a minor is illegal. Although I chose to have my ears pierced in my early teens, I would support a similar ban on piercings of minors to prevent people performing them on young children. I personally believe that mutilating a child for the parents’ emotional satisfaction is barbaric. So, you can imagine what I think of doing it to reinforce ingroup identity!

  24. #24 Ron Low
    May 3, 2011

    Hundreds of thousands of men are enduring a tedious multi-year process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo just some of circumcision’s damage.

    Circumcision is NOT a medical procedure when there is no diagnosis of defect or disease, and no record of other less-destructive remedies tried before resorting to the drastic last-resort step of amputation.

    NOT ONE national medical association on earth (not even Israel’s) endorses routine circumcision.

    It’s settled law that the 1st ammendment doesn’t grant the right to harm or neglect a child in the name of religion. Just ask a Snake Handler, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Scientist, Latter Day Saint, or Muslim.

    The 14th ammendment demands equal protection under the law. We can’t FAIL to protect someone from harm just because of his parents’ faith. Just ask a JW, LDS, Christian Scientist, Snake Handler, or Muslim. Including a religious exemption in the ban would never pass constitutional muster.

    Foreskin feels REALLY good. HIS body, HIS decision.

  25. #25 Narad
    May 3, 2011

    Hundreds of thousands of men are enduring a tedious multi-year process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo just some of circumcision’s damage.

    [Citation needed]

  26. #26 Narad
    May 3, 2011

    I can’t help but wonder why MORE would be a desirable objective. I’m afraid it would simply make for an all too ephemeral enterprise.

    This is an intactivist nonstarter. Circumcision is held to cause both loss of sensitivity and premature ejaculation.

  27. #27 Paul Murray
    May 4, 2011

    Of course it’s genital mutilation of a baby. Of corse it’s repugnant. FGM is much, much more horrible. Yes … and?

    “Being Jewish, well, it’s pretty clear my human rights have been violated. Or something.”

    Much like the human rights of catholics are being violated by them not being allowed to discriminate against homosexuals. Or burn witches. Your human right to belive as you wish and practise your religion kinda stops when it involves mutilating your children.

    “It’s not about controlling (or eliminating) a person’s sexuality.”

    LOL. ‘Corse it is! Half the bible is!

  28. #28 Fred
    May 4, 2011

    This shit sounds like the Mongoloids that argue Obama is a “reverse racist”. A group with all the power claiming a false equivalence as a balm to injured pecker pride.

    If you don’t want your children to be circumcised, don’t do it.

  29. #29 Narad
    May 4, 2011

    A group with all the power claiming a false equivalence as a balm to injured pecker pride.

    No, no. The balm is only applied once foreskin restoration is adopted. The key message is that your dong is wrong and so you’re not strong. Your partner may remain silent, but the disappointment will always be lurking, at least when he or she is not weeping for all the foreskins in heaven and perhaps musing about their physical position with respect to the firmament and the cherubim.

    (And I’m not an advocate of routine infant circumcision, just an occasional observer of intactivist derangements. There’s a lone guy on the corner outside the campus bookstore who “protests” when the weather is good.)

  30. #30 Samantha Vimes
    May 4, 2011

    I actually had to tell my husband he had been circumcised. For most men who have it done as babies, it seems harmless. I have heard of rare cases of a botched job or after infection, so I can understand the idea of the ban.
    Otoh, for people for whom it is a cultural thing, waiting to do it does mean they *will* experience loss of sensitivity and trauma during the operation. Probably a lot more people would be harmed by such a ban than helped.

  31. #31 Moe
    May 4, 2011

    @narad: loss of nerves = loss of feedback = PE

    @Samantha: I fail to see any logical reasoning in your argument

  32. #32 Moe
    May 4, 2011

    @mike (author of article): yes the people that are saying “leave it alone” are the crazy ones…

  33. #33 Dan Bollinger
    May 4, 2011

    Severity isn’t the issue here. The Federal law prohibiting female genital cutting forbids even a pinprick to extract a drop of blood and male genital cutting, aka circumcision, is certainly more severe than that, so severity is not the point. Human rights and equal protection are the points. If the Equal Rights Amendment had been passed, this would be moot and all San Franciscan boys, indeed all boys in the United States, would be protected from genital harm since the law would have to have been written in gender-neutral language. This proposed ban has nothing to do with medicine or religion, but is simply an equal rights issue whose time has come.

  34. #34 Nomen Nescio
    May 4, 2011

    even though i still have my foreskin, i can’t see my way to caring very much about it. it’s just a tiny flap of skin, if i had to do without it i’m sure i’d manage just fine.

    that said, i’d favor not doing it on infants. if a teenage (or older) boy agrees to have it done, or even just plain wants to have it done, for whatever reason, that’s his business; but children too young to understand or reasonably consent to surgery shouldn’t have elective, non-medically necessary surgery performed on them, just as a matter of general principle.

  35. #35 Silent Service
    May 4, 2011

    So who is paying for all these medical procedures? Insurance? I don’t want my insurance rates to be propped up just so Doctors can charge a medically unnecessary payment to insurance companies. You know full well that if new parents had to pay out of pocket to get their little boy’s snipped that the practice would end pretty quick.

  36. #36 Marnie
    May 4, 2011

    Circumcision, by its very nature, has inherent risks and those risks need to be weighed against any benefits. It is also an irreversible cosmetic surgery done to a non-consenting individual.

    It may be a relatively safe procedure that has minimal impact on the individual but then again, so is acupuncture and while the risks are low and the perceived benefits may be high, I still do not support either, especially for children.

    I respect that this is a religious ritual but just as I believe that children should be free to explore other religions and no religion at all, and make their own mind up about which they ascribe to, if any, so too do I believe that an individual should decide if he should have a circumcision and this decision should be made as an adult when he is able to consider all the risks and benefits.

    I don’t buy into the alarmist views on the side against circumcision, but I think the arguments FOR circumcision are pretty similar to the arguments AGAINST vaccination. They are religious or emotional argument, not ones based on solid science.

  37. #37 pat
    May 4, 2011

    People get worked up over it because it’s essentially a form of assault and battery on a child. In this country, people take that sort of abuse very seriously in all cases except this one.

    Deliberately cutting any other part of a child, without medical necessity, would be a crime. Why should there be an exception?

  38. #38 Narad
    May 4, 2011

    @narad: loss of nerves = loss of feedback = PE

    Which, of course, is why condoms with lidocaine are marketed as shortening time to orgasm.

  39. #39 Nauny
    May 4, 2011

    I don’t have a penis so I don’t really have a dog in this race, but I agree with Mike. Firstly, does anyone remember ANYTHING that happened when they were a couple of days old? Didn’t think so. There’s an argument for doing it to babies–so that the person suffers less, because the lasting impact of the pain would be psychological. I see no trauma that these men have suffered through circumcision that can’t be explained as just a manifestation of insecurities that they probably already had! As for the nagging feeling that you might be missing out on something, I have those too. Sometimes I wonder if my life would be better if I was a guy, or if I’d have more fun if I was blonde, or if I’d be a better athlete if I hadn’t had knee surgery. I can brood about these things all day or build a damn bridge and get over it and accept what you have and what you don’t.
    Thirdly, from what I know (again, not having a dog in the race), foreskins have to be peeled back to be cleaned. I’ve heard them described as “self lubricating.” Given the maturity and hygene of most of the guys I know, this is a bit of a turn-off. In the end, you might get more chances for pleasure if you get cut.

  40. #40 Hugh7
    May 4, 2011

    Mike, don’t babies born to Jewish parents have the same human rights as other babies? And isn’t it a human right to decide what (healthy, normal, non-renewable, functional) parts of your own body you get to keep? It is for any other such part you can care to think of, eg earlobes. Why is the male foreskin alone subject to removal at parental wish? The proposed bill just brings it into line with everything else.

    It is as human rights issues that FGC and MGC are comparable. A US doctor invented a gadget in 1959 for “female circumcision” with a shield to spare the clitoris. Last year the AAP flirted with allowing a token, ritual nick to girls “much less extensive than male genital cutting” but was howled down. Whatever horrors may be done to girls in Africa, in the USA it is a pure double standard that stops boys getting equal protection.

    @Naury, being female, dark-haired, etc. weren’t imposed on you by someone else. If men think they “might get more chances for pleasure if you get cut” they’re free to do that, but it’s a poor reason to do it to babies. Forgotten pain was still pain at the time, and how long do they take to forget? Taddio et al. found circumcised babies react differently to the pain of vacccination, months later. Your “I see no trauma…” is just argument ad hominem. They have a right to be angry that their human rights were violated, and that they are missing the most intimate part of their anatomy.

    @Nomen Nescio, I don’t know about yours, but most adult foreskins are not “tiny”.

    @Narad: Talk to that guy. He’s no fool. “Circumcision is held to cause both loss of sensitivity and premature ejaculation.” Strange but true. The foreskin contains ~20,000 nerve endings (Meissner corpuscles) concentrated in a ridged band around the inside of the tip. Circumcision removes all but a remnant, the frenulum (and that too, if the doctor is zealous) which circumcised men call “the male G-spot”. More nerves mean more feedback and hence more control. So cutting off the foreskin is like ripping out the accelerator pedal and leaving an on-off switch. You can still get there (circumcised men constantly say “I can still reach orgasm, so what’s the problem?”) but not enjoy the journey as much, and for some, to get enough stimulation they have to go full tilt all the way, hence PE.

    @Tantalus Prime: Don’t be so sure that the HIV studies are “compelling”. One Cochrane Review found they weren’t, then a second, looking only at the three African trials, found sufficient evidence, but still had some reservations. In the (non-double-blinded, non-placebo-controlled) trials, a total of 5,400 men were circumcised and after less than two years, 64 of them had HIV, 73 fewer than the control group. That is the sum total of the case that circumcision is protective. 703 men dropped out, their HIV status unknown. Contacts were not traced and it is simply assumed that all transmissions were female-to-male. Contaminated needles are a large source of African transmission that the medical authorities are unwilling to acknowledge. A sub-study in Uganda started to find greater risk of male-to-female infection, but was cut short “for futility” before that could be confirmed.

  41. #41 Nomen Nescio
    May 4, 2011

    Thirdly, from what I know (again, not having a dog in the race), foreskins have to be peeled back to be cleaned.

    this is true. it’s a five-second swipe-and-rinse in the morning shower. i spend about as much effort making sure lint does not overmuch gather in my navel.

    some men likely are so lacking in personal hygiene as to create issues with their foreskins and what those cover — but failing in one’s grooming to such an extent would also create other problems, just as serious or worse, that a circumcision would not help correct.

  42. #42 Anonymous
    May 4, 2011

    @Narad: Yes, I’m the guy who protests outside the U of Chicago. Please stop by and talk to me sometime. Did you know that the U of Chicago circumcises 80% of the boys born here. The majority of hospitals in Chicago cut less than 33%. The U of Chicago has the highest circumcision rate of any hospital in the city. The circumcision rate in Illinois is 59% (just a few points above the national rate). When my father was a professor at the U of Chicago Medical School, it was acceptable to do female circumcisions in the U.S. & U of Chicago doctors used to cut off clitorises in Billings Hospital 1/2 block from where I protest. Chicago was the center of female circumcision in the U.S. about 100 years ago when we called it “Orificial Surgery”. You can read the Journal of Orificial Surgery in Crerar Library at the U of Chicago. And, yes, I do pass out info on foreskin restoration. There are several U of C alum beside me who have done it or are doing it now. You really should come talk to me!

  43. #43 Narad
    May 4, 2011

    @Narad: Talk to that guy. He’s no fool. “Circumcision is held to cause both loss of sensitivity and premature ejaculation.” Strange but true.

    Are those quotation marks supposed to signify a citation of some sort?

  44. #44 Hugh7
    May 4, 2011

    It’s a quotation. Someone called Narad said it in post #26.

  45. #45 Narad
    May 4, 2011

    Ah, yes. So it’s merely an assertion, then?

  46. #46 Locuta
    May 5, 2011

    Dude, you are so mis-informed and in denial. Male circumcision IS all “about controlling (or eliminating) a person’s sexuality.” In the U.S. it was co-opted from the Abrahimic superstitions by the Victorians as a way to prevent masturbation. About every decade or so a new batch of “benefits” and justifications for the mutilation keep getting cranked out, with the latest round being the HIV transmission nonsense. All of those African studies have been discredited, but funny we don’t hear about that in the corporate media. Unlike amputation of the foreskin, safe sex with barrier protection is 98% effective and 100% reversible.
    And this “only in San Francisco hahahahahaha” garbage is so tiresome. People all over the U.S. have had enough of this disgusting, harmful genital mutilation from the Bronze Age. That we even need to be dealing with this in the 21st century in North America is bizarre. The only person who should be making decisions about modifying genitals is the ADULT owner of the genitals. Bravo to the SF area intactivists for getting this on the ballot. They pulled the pin on the grenade. Those who have been making money off of mutilating our boys and the men they become are getting nervous.

  47. #47 Narad
    May 5, 2011

    In the U.S. it was co-opted from the Abrahimic superstitions by the Victorians as a way to prevent masturbation.

    This would seem to be nonsensical. What characterizes the “Victorian age” of the U.S.? Saint Thomas appears, upon a casual survey, to be the locus classicus for the notion that circumcision was a measure against concupiscence. But not in the context of advocacy. Again, some sort of citation might be helpful.

  48. #48 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    Narad, here is an excellent article from the journal of social history. Very readable and lucid account of the introduction of male (and indeed female) genital cutting as a means to curb masturbation.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/history/gollaher/

  49. #49 Narad
    May 5, 2011

    Aquinas, that is.

  50. #50 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    and for those who remain in denial (or are simply unaware) of the sexual importance of the inner tissue of the foreskin, just do a bit of googling on the frenulum. The sensations arising from the frenulum are qualitatively different from those arising from the glans. There are many many qualitatively rich accounts written by males describing the pleasure they derive from frenuluar stimulation.

    If you prefer less anecdotal evidence, there is histological research that shows that this tissue contains specialized sensory nerve endings.

    There is psychophysical research showing that this tissue is highly responsive to touch.

    There is also a study that asked intact men to rate different penile regions for their importance in sex. The frenular area was found to be extremely important for sexual pleasure, and for pleasure arising from orgasm derived from stimulation of this area.

    There is also plenty of video evidence on the web where you can plainly see intact males bringing themselves to orgasm through exclusive stimulation of the frenular area.

    It is simply wrong to remove sexual tissue from a nonconsenting human, male OR female, unless absolutely medically necessary.

    The fact that a significant number of our species fails to recognize this is sad. The fact that many of these people recognize it in the case of females, but not of males, is a disturbing testament to the ways in which our cognitive abilities often betray us.

  51. #51 Narad
    May 5, 2011

    Narad, here is an excellent article from the journal of social history.

    That’s all fine and well, but the key assertion (as the onanistic aspects seem to come down to a very few sources) is that “[t]he medical history of circumcision in the United States properly begins in New York on 9 February 1870.” Is the assertion that this is a 140-year aberration? “Locuta” asserts that it’s a generalization of the “Abrahimic” [sic].

    As I’ve stated, I’m not an RIC advocate. The blizzard of non-interlocking talking points, however, gives me the strong sense that the basic angle is single-minded to the point that consistency is no longer an object.

  52. #52 Narad
    May 5, 2011

    If you prefer less anecdotal evidence…

    Too bad you couldn’t be troubled to, you know, actually provide any.

  53. #53 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    too bad you couldn’t be troubled to, you know, actually provide any.

    Narad, I have thus far engaged you with respect and dignity. If you read my posts, you will not see any signs of snarkiness or hostility. I think it fair to expect reciprocity.

    If you also read my post carefully, you will note that I provided the readers with a simple instruction should they wish to discover any such anecdotal evidence:

    just do a bit of googling on the frenulum.

    I chose this instead of overwhelming people with links. However, since you asked, here is one in particular that stands out:

    “As a man who has been intact most of his life but circumcised four years ago, I can offer some
    comments as to sensitivity of the frenulum. It is by far the most pleasurably sensitive piece of skin
    on a man’s body – period. Nothing else come anywhere close. As to an unpleasant ultra-sensitivity of
    which some comment, that is normally only evident for a short time after an intact man has retracted
    his foreskin and exposed his glans for the first few times. For most men that is when they are very
    young. The glans soon gets accustomed to being uncovered and the frenulum provides nothing but
    pleasure. Unfortunately circed men never experience what I would consider true sex. They often say
    “but it could not be any better”, etc., but they are terribly wrong. The glans sensitivity is like a piece of
    wood as compared to the frenum. Sadly circumcision removes part or all of the exquisite sensitivity
    that the frenum provides. In my own case I requested that a significant part of my frenum be
    retained but was disappointed that within several months the saved portion became as dull as the
    glans itself. So if you’re cut you may never know the true feelings of what nature has provided
    with the frenulum. Nevertheless enjoy what sensitivity you have. It is still significant and serves you
    well. Remember to let your son decide for himself whether or not he wants to be circumcised. It should
    be his choice alone.”

    http://www.hipforums.com/newforums/showthread.php?t=224280&page=2

    I can provide many more if you wish, but it really isn’t hard to find these – try googling the following keywords:

    frenulum, orgasm, edging

  54. #54 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    That’s all fine and well, but the key assertion (as the onanistic aspects seem to come down to a very few sources) is that “[t]he medical history of circumcision in the United States properly begins in New York on 9 February 1870.” Is the assertion that this is a 140-year aberration? “Locuta” asserts that it’s a generalization of the “Abrahimic” [sic].

    I can’t speak to the degree to which the introduction of circumcision into western medical culture was influenced by abrahamic patterns of thought and behaviour. I provided the reference as it is a very good documentation of how medical culture around male genital cutting evolved.

  55. #55 Narad
    May 5, 2011

    Narad, I have thus far engaged you with respect and dignity. If you read my posts, you will not see any signs of snarkiness or hostility.

    I appreciate the link to the J. Soc. Hist. article, which I will have to read more than once, but “try googling the following keywords” does not add anything. If I may leap ahead, the assertion becomes the evolution of “medical culture.” Is the idea now that this tenuous antimasturbatory connection took hold so firmly by this route in the general consciousness that it explains, say, 1970s circumcision rates? This is a question.

  56. #56 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    I don’t think we have the knowledge tools to gain precise quantitative insight into how much the current circumcision rate in the United States is causally linked to the anti masturbatory connection.

    But this does not mean the connection is tenuous. You must understand, there were leading figures in the cultural and medical establishment that were voraciously promoting circumcision as a means to curb masturbation. It was considered state of the art knowledge. Assaults on female genitalia in the United States (carbolic acid applications, clitoridectomies) were also practiced due to these attitudes and theories.

    Certainly, there are many other factors that have played a role in promoting this practice. And after a time, the practice develops its own normative momentum. The biggest predictor of whether a female or male child undergoes genital cutting is whether the child’s mother or father, respectively, has undergone genital cutting. So even though in many cases there may be a distal causal connection to some influence (e.g. anti masturbatory connection), the most proximal cause is simply blind allegiance to normative tradition. As Gollaher points out, this phenomenon exists even within medical tradition, where doctor’s attitudes are shaped not necessarily by objective research, but by learning attitudes from mentor relationships. He points out that hysterectomies, historically performed due to the belief that the uterus can cause madness in women, are even nowadays performed more often than they should. The idea is that the original prejudice against the uterus has been passed down in behavioural form even though today no doctor believes the faulty proposition to be true. The same might be said about prejudice towards the foreskin, despite the anti-masturbatory rationale not holding favour. In fact, when you look at what national medical institutions say, whose responsibility it is to actually read through the literature and provide guidelines, it is often in stark contrast to the attitudes held by individual doctors.

    And this also extends to religion. There were a few key figures in judaic history who were quite explicit about the wisdom of circumcision – it was meant to weaken the male sexual response in order that he may devote himself more fully to spiritual endeavours. Yet many jews today are not consciously (or even subconsciously) motivated by this rationale.

  57. #57 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    Nared: I just re-read your post – I see now that you may have been asking for links to non-anecdotal evidence (rather than the anecdotal evidence I thought you were bugging me about).

    Here are a few key papers:

    http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/sorrells_2007/

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2008.08166.x/full

  58. #58 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    sorry for the barage, but this is also important viewing:

    http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/video/prepuce.html

    it’s a video with slides, drawn from peer reviewed research up to the mid 90’s, that give insight into the anatomy and neurophysiology of the prepuce.

  59. #59 Hugh7
    May 5, 2011

    Narad may also find this useful:
    http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
    and especially this:
    http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=62

    I don’t have the reference in front of me, but masturbation was being given as a reason to circumcise until at least the 1950s.

  60. #60 APic
    May 5, 2011

    As a circumcised (as a baby, for ‘medical reasons’) male i can safely say that it’s given me no problems, and sex is still pleasurable although sometimes i find it difficult to orgasm from oral sex alone. And hand jobs require some artificial lubrication.

    Now though i’m beginning to wonder what i’m missing out on, and if i should hate on the doctor who encouraged my parents to get it done.

    It hasn’t made me masturbate any less though, so in this case at least, it’s failed.

  61. #61 Wow
    May 5, 2011

    “It hasn’t made me masturbate any less though, so in this case at least, it’s failed.”

    Kev Wilson “I gave up wanking”:

    If you say you don’t wank, you’re a liar
    And a fool if you say that you do.

  62. #62 APic
    May 5, 2011

    @Wow:

    Maybe if you bring it up in polite conversation, but i think in this case it was well within context.

  63. #63 Nina
    May 5, 2011

    Routine circumcision on baby boys is the amputation of a healthy and functional part of the human body for bogus reasons, in most cases. Why should this be allowed?
    I’m sure that especially those with a botched circumcision would have much preferred it if their parents had left the decision with the “penis-bearer” instead of messing up their penis for them.

  64. #64 Paul Adams
    May 5, 2011

    That whole HIV prevention argument is so ridiculous – is your baby having that much sex he’s at risk of contracting it? The fact is it’s cosmetic surgery being performed on someone without their consent. No different than if they decided to sew them up a little pair of elf ears or something. Just because it’s part of your tradition doesn’t mean it’s right.

  65. #65 JoeKaistoe
    May 5, 2011

    @51 Narad

    I think that the lack of interlocking talking points stems from the emotional response this invokes in people, as well as that in many respects, it is trying to dis-prove the utility of the surgery. And as you know, one cannot disprove things scientifically, only be unable to find proof. So while one can prove the utility of the foreskin, one cannot dis-prove the utility of circumcision.

    I believe that any procedure done on a minor should be done for science-based medical reasons. To argue for it on any other grounds can be reasonable compared to homeopathy, reiki and any other bit of woo.

    Arguing that it should be done when a one is a baby, to ensure they do not remember the procedure can be compared to arguing that it should be legal to circumcise any adult(with or without consent), so long as a legal proxy says it’s okay, and they don’t remember the procedure or feel pain from it.

  66. #66 Wow
    May 5, 2011

    Apic.

    Whoosh?

  67. #67 trina
    May 5, 2011

    Can you imagine if men worked as passionately and quickly to enact legislation entitling women to bodily autonomy?
    Apparently infant foreskin is more important than the lives of girls and women.

  68. #68 Kapitano
    May 5, 2011

    A serious aside: There’s compelling evidence that circumcision helps lower the rate of HIV transmission.

    A trivial bit of pseudoscience gets elevated to ‘serious’ research, because it happens to match a prejudice.

    An irrelevant issue gets shoehorned in, for the same reason.

    That’s after the nods to ‘it’s our culture so if you object you’re oppressing us” and “I never had it so I know I’m not missing anything”.

    It’s always instructive to watch critical thinkers suddenly lose their critical thinking skills, when the matter is personal to them.

  69. #69 J. Simonov
    May 5, 2011

    Poweslave;

    I must confess, every time I hear about how much sensation and pleasure my circumcised penis is missing out on I can’t help but wonder why MORE would be a desirable objective. I’m afraid it would simply make for an all too ephemeral enterprise.

    If you start off with a more sensitive penis at the beginning of your sexual life, you simply adjust to it. Countries in which the majority are uncircumcised don’t have an epidemic of premature ejaculation.

    Narad;

    Your partner may remain silent, but the disappointment will always be lurking

    I gather you meant this sarcastically, but yeah, this is pretty much what happens, at least in parts of the world where circumcision is not the norm. That’s been my experience anyway, anecdotal I know, but take it for what you will.

  70. #70 Personage
    May 5, 2011

    Such a contentious issue!

    I don’t suppose we can continue to allow it based on the research (which isn’t compelling, but still has to be considered), and the fact that circumsized men still have pleasureable sex (i.e., the only thing their missing is some unknown gradation of sexual pleasure)? Perhaps an educational campaign, ‘Quit the snip’ would work a little better than forcing people through legislation?

    And just to spice things up a little more: If we’re going to ban the mutiliation of a newborn infant boy’s genitals, should we not also ban the abortion of infants in the birthable stages of their in utero experience? After all, missing out on foreskin isn’t quite as bad as missing out on life.

    (And yes, I know I’m going to get harangued over this, but I’m wondering if this post will eventually come to Godwin’s Law)

  71. #71 JoeKaistoe
    May 5, 2011

    @67 trina

    Oh my science, you’re right! We’ve been wasting our lives holding opinions on more than one subject! Come fellows, let us abandon our opinions on circumcision, religion, mining, colour preference, and laptop brand so that we can focus solely on abortion rights!

    I’m not sure about your definition of “as quickly” though. I can only surmise that it means to do something significantly after on a seperate issue that has been around in the same society for a similarly long time.

    @70 Personage

    One could also argue that restricting abortion rights is also derived from the same roots as promoting circumcision, i.e. control over sexuality.

    Also, Hitler and Nazis checked people if they were circumcised to see if they were Jewish, therefore circ is evil/defiant of evil/coincidentally very easy to Godwin!

    Godwin’d for ya. :P

  72. #72 trina
    May 5, 2011

    apparently this genius lawmaker took only two weeks to be convinced of the need to enact sweeping foreskin-saving legislation, for the protection of his neonatal constituents.

    Female bodily autonomy isn’t as glaringly obvious a right that needs defending as male penis flap skin. Just sayin’.

  73. #73 Marnie
    May 5, 2011

    And just to spice things up a little more: If we’re going to ban the mutiliation of a newborn infant boy’s genitals, should we not also ban the abortion of infants in the birthable stages of their in utero experience?

    What is “birthable”? I suspect you mean viable. Most states do not allow for late stage abortions unless there is a serious risk of death to the mother, so i don’t think you’ve said anything shocking here.

  74. #74 Narad
    May 5, 2011

    I gather you meant this sarcastically, but yeah, this is pretty much what happens, at least in parts of the world where circumcision is not the norm.

    No, it wasn’t sarcastic. The trick, of course, is that the only people who can directly comment on the main assertions are those men who were circumcised after becoming sexually active. Thus, auxiliary arguments are necessary. You don’t work right. Your girlfriend feels sorry for you. Etc.

    And I repeat that I’m not defending RIC.

  75. #75 spacediver
    May 5, 2011

    Narad, at the risk of missing the whole point of the sub-conversation between you and Simonov, I’ve a question:

    Based on your last post, you’re saying that the only people who can directly comment on the main assertions are those who’ve experienced sex both with and without a foreskin.

    What are the main assertions you’re referring to here? And would your comments be applicable in the context of intact women making assertions about the sexual harms of female genital cutting?

  76. #76 Teliria
    May 6, 2011

    If you are going to use the ‘Circ. reduces HIV transmission’ line, you really should read the actual studies. You will find some serious issues with them, such as the fact that in at least one, whether or not someone was circumcised was self-reported. Follow-up studies that actually checked showed MUCH lower circumcision rates than were reported.

    Additionally, studies have shown that basic HYGIENE is much more effective in preventing STD’s than circumcision.

    Studies done in the US show that those who were snipped actually had a higher rate of STD’s than the unsnipped.

    Here is a link to some more studies and discussions of the conclusions drawn from studies: http://www.circumcision.org/studies.htm

  77. #77 spacediver
    May 6, 2011

    to me, the prophylactic dimension of genital cutting is a complete red herring. Even if all the studies on the medical benefits are true, that doesn’t even bring it close to a rational choice.

    It’s easy to see how our thinking is skewed here. Suppose a study found that trimming an infant’s vulva (using appropriate sterilization and anaesthetic measures) conferred a reduction in the transmission and reception of the HIV pathogen. Would we then justify having our daughters cut in the name of disease prevention?

    You could probably save millions of lives performing neonatal mastectomies, yet the idea is horrific.

  78. #78 AA
    May 6, 2011

    problems for uncircumcised penis:
    phimosis
    paraphimosis
    infection
    difficulty in sexual act
    risk of HIV infection

  79. #79 Narad
    May 6, 2011

    What are the main assertions you’re referring to here? And would your comments be applicable in the context of intact women making assertions about the sexual harms of female genital cutting?

    I am referring solely to the specific assertions made regarding the subjective effects asserted to afflict the circumcised male.

  80. #80 spacediver
    May 6, 2011

    narad, thanks for the clarification.

    I agree that those who have experienced both ends of the situation are in a unique position to gain phenomenological insight into these effects, however there are a few things that should be said.

    Neither male nor female genital cutting are homogeneous practices with respect to the type and quantity of tissue that is removed. There is plenty of variance.

    The male who has, as an adult, had virtually all his frenular tissue removed, leaving the glans as the sole source of sexual pleasure, may tell a very different story from the male who has had all his frenular tissue, including the frenulum, spared.

    Secondly, males who do have frenular tissue, either because of the style of cutting they underwent, or because they are genitally intact, can appreciate the sexual harm of circumcision simply by virtue of knowing what they have, and its importance, and recognizing that many circumcised males do not have it.

    There are also other ways to gain insight about the sexual function of certain tissues. Many adult males are keenly aware of the importance of the clitoris, without needing to have one. This knowledge certainly contributes to the morally reprehensible attitude that many males have towards female genital cutting, and this is epistemically sound.

  81. #81 appellategirl
    May 6, 2011

    Eight years ago, I decided not to have my newborn son circumcised because I just didn’t want anyone cutting part of my baby’s body off. I asked the pediatrician, and she said there are no medical advantages to circumcision; it’s just a social / cultural thing. So I did not do it. He is now 8 years old and has no problem whatsoever with his natural self so far. And his being “different from his dad” has not been an issue at all.

    I know there are studies about circumcision reducing the risk of AIDS, etc., but to me that is like recommending that all women routinely have double masectomies because it would reduce the risk of breast cancer.

    I think the newborn circumcision rate has been going down every year in the U.S. as parents wise up on this issue, and hopefully the practice will continue to decrease.

  82. #82 Donalbain
    May 6, 2011

    I have NEVER seen a circumcised penis. Ever. It is simply not done as a matter of course in the UK. To me it seems barbaric. “I want to cut off this bit of my child, because a bronze age mountain god says I should”? No.. I am in favour of the ban.

  83. #83 J. Simonov
    May 6, 2011

    Narad;

    The trick, of course, is that the only people who can directly comment on the main assertions [regarding subjective effects on men] are those men who were circumcised after becoming sexually active.

    I don’t think that’s true. Circumcised men who have retained part of their frenulum, for instance, are in a position to comment on the subjective effects of the surgery on their ability to feel sexual pleasure. It’s quite easy for them to say “yeah, my frenulum remnant is awesome; if I had the whole thing I’d clearly be better off, and if it had been removed completely, I’d be worse off.”

  84. #84 Narad
    May 6, 2011

    Circumcised men who have retained part of their frenulum, for instance, are in a position to comment on the subjective effects of the surgery on their ability to feel sexual pleasure. It’s quite easy for them to say “yeah, my frenulum remnant is awesome; if I had the whole thing I’d clearly be better off, and if it had been removed completely, I’d be worse off.”

    You both omitted and instantiated the point I was trying to make: “auxiliary arguments are necessary.” This one actually goes a bit further, in terms of taking a double dip into the contents of other people’s minds.

  85. #85 J. Simonov
    May 7, 2011

    I don’t quite see what you mean by “auxiliary argument”. If the main assertion we’re discussing is that circumcision negatively affects a man’s ability to feel sexual pleasure due to the removal of erogenous bits….then the guys I mentioned above can comment on that directly.

  86. #86 Narad
    May 8, 2011

    If the main assertion we’re discussing is that circumcision negatively affects a man’s ability to feel sexual pleasure due to the removal of erogenous bits….then the guys I mentioned above can comment on that directly.

    OK, I don’t want to drag this out interminably, and it’s really difficult to avoid inadvertent puns. But, what if one of “the guys [you] mentioned” doesn’t actually report what you assert is “quite easy for them to say”? Is one back to the whole you-can’t-admit-that-you’re-broken trip?

  87. #87 spacediver
    May 8, 2011

    Narad, the vast majority of women who have undergone genital cutting, yet have remnants of their clitoris, do not put 2 and 2 together. Like most men who have undergone genital cutting, they consider it nothing but an advantage.

  88. #88 sb7
    May 8, 2011

    I don’t think it’s entirely correct to compare men circumcised at birth with those who have been circumcised in adulthood.
    There is no way of quantifying the pleasure that someone else can feel. If someone has been circumcised as an adult they can say that they now feel less afterwards, but it can’t be compared to someone who has never experienced it surely? There are just too many differences.
    I think going on about how circumcised men are missing out etc. will just reinforce that perception that they’ve been wronged. It’s a barbaric practice to cut off a part of your child’s body for cosmetic or religious purposes, surely that’s reason enough to be against it.

  89. #89 Katharine
    May 9, 2011

    You all do realize that circumcision is often done WITHOUT ANESTHESIA, correct?

  90. #90 spacediver
    May 9, 2011

    the anaesthesia issue, or the pain felt during the operation, is another red herring.

    Yes it is often done without anaesthesia, and yes, it often can be an intensely traumatic experience, but the real harm that needs to be considered is the long term sexual harm.

    After all, we would not condone the trimming of our daughters’ vulvas as long as it were done painlessly.

  91. #91 Narad
    May 9, 2011

    Narad, the vast majority of women who have undergone genital cutting, yet have remnants of their clitoris, do not put 2 and 2 together.

    I would repeat the question that I posed to J. Simonov. If a circumcised male, with frenulum remnant, does not in fact happen to report a desire to regrow a foreskin, is this a matter of not being able to “put 2 and 2 together”?

  92. #92 spacediver
    May 9, 2011

    There may be many reasons for not wanting to regrow a foreskin.

    By putting 2 and 2 together I simply mean figuring out and/or having the courage to acknowledge that genital cutting is a form of sexual destruction and is intrinsically harmful.

    One may realize this, yet not choose to regrow a foreskin.

    on the topic of restoration, I have recently started, and have written up my own personal experience with the initial gains. For some reason when I try to include a link, my post is held for moderator approval. Do a google search with the following three keywords (not as a phrase):

    spacediver shocking restoration

    should be the first hit.

  93. #93 Aaron
    May 23, 2011

    I’ve read through these comments, and see a lot of people asserting it isn’t a traumatic experience. I was mutilated at age 5, and I can say it is a painful, traumatic experience. The fact that this is an acceptable practice at the same time we are trying to end FGM in other countries is absurd. MGM is commonly done when there are other options, the doctor just doesn’t care. I remember having my penis bleeding frequently as it healed over a week or so. The healing process is so painful that I couldn’t wear anything on the lower half of my body. I remember getting sick from the anesthetic to the point where I couldn’t eat for another day, even though it had already been 36 hours since I ate. Tell me you would gladly go through that.

  94. #94 Zeno
    July 31, 2011

    My nephew’s wife is upset that her infant son has been fussy and cried all night instead of sleeping. I suspect he would have slept better had she not had his foreskin cut off earlier in the day. I really don’t think that parents have an automatic right to decide to cut off healthy parts of their children’s bodies.

    As for the differences between the treatment accorded to boys versus girls: Female “circumcision” is extreme mutilation and a mortal sin. Male circumcision is minor mutilation (minor particularly because we’re so used to it!) and a venial sin. But both are sins. (I knew that old-fashioned Catholic terminology would come in handy some day.)

  95. #95 Alan
    August 17, 2011

    “I’ve never understood why people get worked up over male circumcision. It’s not like the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation.”

    Really? – The bronze age religious ritual of cutting off an infants foreskin with no anaesthetic and no antibiotics is not barbaric?

    I think if you actually looked into the facts and dropped the personal perspective you may change your mind about what is basically legalised child abuse.

    Quoting the first google hit for ‘circumcision deaths’.

    This study finds that approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths (9.01/100,000) occur annually in the United States, about 1.3% of male neonatal deaths from all causes. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable. – THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90.

    Put another way; 13 out of every 1000 male infant deaths in the US are due to circumcisions gone wrong. It says nothing in the abstract about those left permanently disfigured and/or disabled from infections and such, maybe you could investigate and make that the topic of your next blog?

    But seriously; your reasoning is skewed because ‘you and your friends are ok’ is a personal anecdote, and there are less barbaric (and more effective), ways to protect your kids from HIV, eg: buy them a box of condoms.

  96. #96 Alan
    August 17, 2011

    “Nothing like medically-related idiocy to kill people….”

    Oh I don’t know, the irony in that statement has probably killed a few people by now.

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