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I think one of the things that we far too often overlook in this country is that fact that genital mutilation of newborn boys is common practice, if not standard. Why isn't there more of a cry against this? Do the benefits of circumcision (if any, and I don't see any valid argument that there are any) outweigh the cost and mutilation of a boy?

Of course circumcision isn't the only genital mutilation in the world, but it's the only type in practice in the United States. Female genital mutilation is just as barbaric, if not more so. Americans, and Europeans in general, ban female genital mutilation of babies, but why the hypocrisy in not doing the same for males?

Tags: Christianity, God, Judaism, circumcision, clitoral, covenant, genital, mutilation

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Hi Rob,

   The question of if circumcision improves or degrades appearance is subjective and probably unimportant.  


The question of if it improves or degrades hygiene is more to the point and, it seems, unresolved.  If it is, as you and others seem to believe, not a significant hygienic concern and also degrades function then I agree the practice should stop.  


However, it is not clear to me that there is no hygienic benefit.  Many doctors recommend it, other feel it is unnecessary.  (A common argument that, because most American docs are circumcised, their medical opinions are biased is illogical and inconsistent. )  Further,  the claimed increased sensitivity of uncircumcised males may be detrimental in that both our population and the amount of time we're concerned with sex may be excessive.


In any case, it seems not a big deal to me.   

The question of if circumcision improves or degrades appearance is subjective and probably unimportant.


It is important, it concerns sexual experience which is an important part of being human. It's your penis, for crying out loud? How can your first concern in regards to your penis be a hygiene issue, you are removing a body part that has a function in intercourse and has many nerve endings.


It is not a significant hygienic concern at all, take a look in countries where RIC is not common, there is no such thing as a hygiene problem with being uncircumcised. If it was a hygienic concern, then you would solve this first by improving hygiene. Would you remove infant breast tissue if it proved to lower the risk of breast cancer? 


A common argument that, because most American docs are circumcised, their medical opinions are biased is illogical and inconsistent.


My point was that it is a sensitive subject to discuss. I would say that "their" medical opinions can be biased, just like uncircumcised doctors can be biased. Bias is human, and usually has an emotional basis.


Further,  the claimed increased sensitivity of uncircumcised males may be detrimental in that both our population and the amount of time we're concerned with sex may be excessive.


And you would dare make that decision for another human being based upon your opinion as to what degree one should concern himself with sex? This is not an argument that would strengthen your position to me.


Would you agree to these "facts"?

A) the foreskin holds nerve endings

B) the foreskin has a sexual function

C) circumcision has religious roots

Or do you contest these as facts?


In my opinion, parents have no right to make a decision such as circumcision except when based upon medical necessity. The hygiene argument comes basically down to a perceived advantage of convenience, not necessity and I do not see how this constitutes as an argument at all. 


In any case, it seems not a big deal to me.


It is a big deal, it is about sex. Sex is important to people, we all have opinions about it and most of us attempt to find sexual gratification. If you decide to circumcise your son, you are making a decision for him that has effects on his sexual experience. What other reason then necessity is there to make such a decision for another person?


Earlier in the discussion I mentioned as an analogy the fact that I do not have stereoscopic vision because I can only look with one eye at a time, not with both. To me this has some disadvantages as well as advantages, which of course is all about perception (pun intended). Would you allow me to alter the body of my child in such a way that it would have the same perceived advantages? I'm not arguing specifics here, just the principle. How far am I allowed to go?


If you can explain which body parts and sensory data you're allowed to remove from an infant and for what perceived advantage, please do. I remain convinced that it is not the decision that the parents should be allowed to make unless forced by necessity.


   I do agree with you that:

A) the foreskin holds nerve endings

B) the foreskin has a sexual function

C) circumcision has religious roots


These facts do not either suggest or deny a hygienic effect.  Successful reproduction of circumcised men suggests to me that the foreskin is not a requirement for sexual motivation.  


As to excess body parts, I also agree that there are few or perhaps even none. The tonsils are of questionable utility, as is the appendix, but in both of these examples the small risk involved with removing the small risk of removing them outweighs the value of doing so prophetically - except in situations where the even smaller risk of infection has unusually serious repercussions.   Circumcision is relatively much simpler and safer.


However, I would not wish to force anyone to be circumcised unless I was responsible for them  (i.e. only my sons need apply).  In that situation it is a moral imperative for me to act as I believe is best.    I do agree that were I to have more children now, I would reconsider, based on believing that any health risk is small and that they retain the opportunity to decide on circumcision themselves as adults.  Most likely, I'd follow the advice of the obstetrician, given that she/he is "expert". 


My tonsils were removed when I was 7. It was the 2nd worst decision my parents ever made regarding my health.


The first worst decision on my health was they each smoked 3 packs a day in the 60s-70s-80s. I have nicotine intolerance and spent 6 months a year sick and coughing til age 17. Removing my tonsils was thought to help reduce my coughing. It didn't.


Another example of stupid "medical" interventions with no scientific justification.

These facts do not either suggest or deny a hygienic effect.


A perceived advantage of hygiene is an advantage of convenience at best, it is not a necessity.


Successful reproduction of circumcised men suggests to me that the foreskin is not a requirement for sexual motivation.


It is not, it is a part of the body that has a very useful function in intercourse and that directly influences the pleasure of intercourse as well as masturbation.


I heard from a guy that walked the marathon without legs so I guess we don't need legs to move around. No point in keeping those legs, after all, feet smell so it is hygienic to remove them. 


It is foolish to say: "oh, but circumcised males can still have orgasms so all is fine" because it is not about whether or not it is possible, but whether or not it is more pleasurable. And the gist of the argument is that it's not your decision to make. You do not own your sons and it is not your duty to make such decisions for your children based upon your own morals.


It is not just a little flap of skin, as an intact male I can tell you that you simply do not know what you are missing in the same sense as that I don't know what 3D vision is.

You seem to me like a man who is simultaneously trying to be objective and yet also trying to justify your own circumcision.

You're wrong about circumcision being simpler and safer than appendectomy and tonsilectomy. Few people die from those surgeries, but many babies die from circumcision. And in a sense they are the lucky ones, as many 'survivors' have to live with botched jobs which impact their lives to varying degrees. It's just not something that most men talk about (just as death-by-circumcision is not something that most doctors talk about), but the internet is full of the laments of such men who have been damaged for life in one way or another (just as some records of infant circumcision deaths are available online).

All these scenarios aside, it is not uncommon for baby boys to have to return to the hospital/clinic for post-operative complications which need to be fixed.

Regarding hygiene, anyone who claims that the removal of healthy functional tissue somehow contributes to health and hygiene is a fool. If the penis is so 'dirty' then what does that say about the vagina? Where are all the studies on female circumcision and hygiene, or would such things be 'inappropriate' in the USA?

Even if the penis was somehow 'dirty' then there would still be no reason to amputate the foreskin of an infant. This is because the foreskin at birth is attached to the glans, like skin to muscle or fingernails to the nail-bed. It must literally be torn off the glans. A foreskin does not usually even begin to separate from the glans until childhood, and smegma does not start to develop until adolescence (not that there is actually anything dirty about smegma, which is shared by both men and women).

In fact, removing the foreskin from the glans - an internal organ - is actually unhygenic as it the body is cut open leaving a wound to heal (usually in a dirty diaper) and exposing an organ that was not supposed to see the light of day for years and years. What's more, the urethral opening is permanently exposed too, which was meant to be protected by the one-way-opening of the acroposthion (which lets urine out and nothing in).

As far as following the advice of an obstetrition, different obstetritions give different advice, especially regarding circumcision in the USA. What is not up for debate, though, is that no medical organisation in the world recommends routine infant circumcision, so if you do have an obstetrician in favour of the procedure then they would need to explain to you why they are going against the vast majority of doctors and medical organisations in the world. What I think that you won't find is an obstetrician who is intact (or married to an intact man) advocating for circumcision. Something to think about.

And in a sense they are the lucky ones, as many 'survivors' have to live with botched jobs which impact their lives to varying degrees.


I'm one of those men. My life has been permanently changed, damaged, by circumcision as an infant. My dorsal nerve was severed during the procedure, leaving half of my penis with very little sensation.


I was not "adjusted". I was not "corrected". I was "mutilated".


I did not give consent for my body to be altered. And yet it was, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Dear Jarod

Your contribution to this long-running debate is timely and honourable.

We grieve with you as regards the ill-conceived and needless tragedy that was inflicted upon you as an innocent child. 



That is very sad. A hard cross to bear. Perhaps we can use our sufferings, though, to help overcome our own ignorance and help others overcome theirs, and in so doing create the soil for a better world.

I wish more men like yourself would speak out against this ignorant and negative practice. Much of the world is under the impression that circumcision is trivial and harmless. This is obviously not the case.

Many lives, yours included, have been ruined or damaged because of this mutilation, and it is just one symptom of a society with warped views on sexuality, which is connected to warped views on life and love.

Is there any way you can sue or take any kind of legal action against the person or people involved? And have you explored any possibilities for healing the nerve damage? I hope I'm not being rude by asking these questions.


Many doctors used to recommend labotomies and leaching; it doesn't make their opinions valid. You say some doctors recommend it while others feel it is unnecessary. This is an incomplete appraisal, as many doctors go further than saying it is unnecessary; they outright discourage and condemn the practice.


The idea that because most American doctors are circumcised (or married to circumcised men or know nothing else or had their own children circumcised) their  opinions may be biased (for whatever reason) is not illogical or inconsistent at all. It is a very reasonable proposition.


Your populaton is obsessed with sex because you live in a highly sexualised and dysfunctional culture. You have repressed sex and judged it with guilt and shame for so long in your prudish religious history that it has become an unhealthy obsession. This is basic psychology. Additionally, your highly commercial and materialistic culture makes a god out of sex because the sexual urge and pleasure can be so easily exploited to manipulate people into spending billion of dollars, which is what sales and marketting is all about.


If you look at more balanced cultures, whether they be sophisticated European societies or more primitive tribal ones, sex and nudity are neither judged nor obsessed over. It is about healthy attitudes based on acceptance and love, as opposed to the religious ideas of prudence and conservatism that lead to guilt and shame about our own bodies and their natural functions.


Another argument is that circumcision goes even further to create sexual imbalance because it deprives of a man of a complete sexual experience which becomes like an itch that can never be fully scratched leading to further obsession.


If you look at the cultures that practice circumcision, namely Jewish, Muslim, and American, then it is very evident that (1) they all come from the Abrahamic lineage (in which Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness), and (2) are consequently OBSESSED with sex and how to control and restrict it. The Old Testament is full of references to circumcision and the shame of nudity. Recall how Noah excommunicated one of his sons for seeing him naked? This is a very very unhealthy perspective and it has caused untold suffering and damage to the world.


If it's not a big deal for you then that's fine, but there are men for whom it is a big deal.



You are right that the word 'mutilation' has a strong inherently negative connotation. And there are both pros and cons in using it to describe male infant circumcision. The first pro is that it makes people think about something that they otherwise mightn't. 'Circumcision' is a euphemism. It is a cold and technical word that doesn't express the reality of the procedure. It 'medicalises' the non-therapeutic removal of healthy functional erogenous tissue from the genitals of children.

'Mutilation' is a word that goes to the other extreme, deliberately provocative and arguably hyperbole in this context. No one would argue that parents who circumcise their boys want to 'mutilate' them any more than parents who circumcise girls want to 'mutilate' them. This is a downside to using the word 'mutilate'; also it can be offensive to circumcised males (who don't want to believe their genitals have been mutilated). And yet intact males in circumcising cultures have had to suffer for their penises as well, being judged as inferior and called 'weird' and 'gross'. So again we have an example of balance (justice).

All the procedures you mentioned in your comment - from braces to breast implants - are cosmetic adjustments. If circumcision is considered such an 'adjustment' then there is absolutely no reason for it to be done to an infant. It is a permanent body modification that should be the sole choice of the owner of the body when they are old enough to make such a decision. The foreskin is not a birth defect; it is natural anatomy. Socalled circumcision permanently removes the foreskin and in so doing forever alters the appearance and function of the penis.

Braces on children are not removing any body-parts, and the work of Dr Weston Price has shown us why people have crooked teeth: it is a result of our diet and lifestyle and as such is something that can be eradicated if we want to live a more healthy natural existence. There is a great deal of evidence to support the idea that the human body is an innately perfect machine and that it is what we do to it over the years and the generations that is the major and perhaps only cause of its deterioration and disease.


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