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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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I can understand your resentment for this decision that was made without your consent.

Many people love to have and express their control over their bodies. They mutilate their skin by piercing, injecting ink, and causing patterned welts. I've seen some disturbing examples. I don't understand this desire but I recognize the individuals right to have it.

I wonder why no one here decries the practice of piercing an non-consenting child's ears or nose. There is no more reason to mutilate those parts of the body in my opinion.
Well, if someone wants to grow their piercings in (at least at that gage) it is easy to do, and all they have to do is ignore them for awhile. Mainly the only issue I could see is the chance of infection, but maybe there are some I don't know about.
I've repeatedly heard here that parents should not be permitted to make even cosmetic changes to their children. Are you calling for governmental control? Do we want the government dictating how we can treat our children? What are the possible consequences of this opposite extreme? Are we comfortable with the idea that, someday, our children will simply be taken at birth and we will have no input in how they are raised? It may eventually come to that.

Leaving FGM way to the side, I consider male circumcision to be a cosmetic change. I have not heard compelling evidence that circumcision affects the enjoyment of the individual or his partner in a significant way. One reason that circumcision may be continued to be practiced in the absence of religious tradition is the perception of beauty. How many porn films have you seen with an uncircumcised male star? I have seen very few. Like it or not much of our perception of beauty comes from what we see in film and print. As far as contemporary pornography is concerned huge circumcised penises and shaven vaginas are appealing.

If I want to revert to my natural state I will stop shaving or concerning myself with unnecessary tasks like trimming my toenails and plucking unsightly hairs. No, the modern human is willing to go to great lengths to achieve their beauty ideal. Is circumcision such a great leap from that objective? Since it is made for another person perhaps so. Since it is far less desirable to make such a change later in life perhaps not.
I agree 100% about the subjectivity of beauty. Different cultures and people have concepts of beauty that differ immensely. Hardly anyone now would consider binding Chinese women's feet to be "beautiful," but at the time it was the very height of feminine beauty, at least as viewed by the men. I doubt women had very much say in the matter as to what they considered to be beautiful in men or other women.

If no one had ever conceived of circumcising males, we'd never have started doing it, and we'd never even have the possibility of considering it to be aesthetically pleasing. It's all relative.
A) Uncut porn is everywhere. I use the word intact but the industry being mostly based in the US where cut is common for sexually active males, they still use uncut.

B) If circumcision were free of acute risks and perfectly painless it would still be a huge violation of human rights. It takes away about half a male's pleasure-receptive nerve endings, removes protection for the mucosal parts meant to keep them supple and sensitive, and changes intimacy for the worse by eliminating the frictionless rolling/gliding action of the slinky skin that makes sex more plush for a man and his partner. It also makes the penis THINNER, reducing the diameter by 4 skin thicknesses (the skin doubles under and enfolds over the glans upon a withdrawal phase so there are two layers on either side of the glans).

In the only study to carefully measure the fine-touch sensitivity on various spots on the penis for over 150 men, of 17 spots they measured the 5 most sensitive were all on the foreskin. You might ask why they measured the foreskin more than once. That's because it comprises about 15 square inches in the adult. It includes some outer skin like the surviving shaft skin on a cut guy, the roll-over point which is very ticklish, the ridged band of highly concentrated sexual nerve endings, the frenular delta, and the frenulum (the neurological homologue to the clitoris).

Involuntary penis reduction surgery? Bloody brilliant idea!

C) MOST of the world is intact (like 80%). Even in the US there are states where only about 1/4 of infants are being cut today. So forget about cutting to fit in unless your boy will never leave your state. If he's cut he WILL fit in with Muslims who comprise about 3/4 of the cut males on earth, but over half of them are cut later in childhood.

D) Even a pin poke to draw one drop of blood from a girl is illegal with no religious exemption. Where were you with your parents' rights protest when that was enacted? I'm definitely in favor of the goverment protecting the defenseless from irrational treatment (as today we can force Jehovah's Witnesses' kids to accept blood transfusions). Permanent non-therapeutic amputations should be high on the list of protections.

E) Please don't embarrass yourself by comparing voluntary shaving or trimming of parts with no nerve endings - and that grow back - to forced ampution of parts that include skin, muscle fibre, nerve endings, and blood vessels.
"E) Please don't embarrass yourself by comparing voluntary shaving or trimming of parts with no nerve endings - and that grow back - to forced ampution of parts that include skin, muscle fibre, nerve endings, and blood vessels."

I was not making any comparison between toenails and foreskins. I was merely pointing out that in many respects adult humans have little desire to remain true to their evolutionary past.

For the record I don't disagree with anything you said except for the part about government regulation. I was only trying to offer an opposing point of view to keep the discussion interesting. I think that government regulation of morality is an extremely slippery slope and is an idea which would have been repulsive to the framers of the US Constitution. Such regulation can be tolerated as long as it matches perfectly with your ideals but what happens when it doesn't? Power covets more power and I am frankly very much afraid of what the result will be when we grant authority over our very offspring to a government. I'm sure we could find many examples in history of what the result will be.
Before we continue I should say that I am not against regulation, per se, but I agree with those who say we should be very cautious with its application and restrict, as far as possible, the ability of government to dictate how we live our lives or infringe upon our freedoms inasmuch as they do no harm to others. Introduction of new policies which do impact the way people live their lives should be instituted in a very cautious evolutionary way.

I suspect that the political climate and broad disagreement over religious practices that currently exists in the USA would make it difficult to criminalize circumcision today. It may be more feasible in some other countries but I don't care to speculate because I'm not even sure that we're at the point of discussing actual implementation of the idea.

Which ideals would make criminalizing circumcision controversial?

1. Freedom of religious belief

It may shock you but I support freedom to practice religion. I can think of no logical argument supporting the idea that I should have the right to disbelieve in gods but others do not have the right to believe in them. I agree that your right to practice your religion ends at the point that it harms another person, even your own children. Whether or not the child is harmed is what is up for debate. I suspect that many theists would not agree that male circumcision is harmful. At that point it becomes necessary to violate the families right to practice their religion and how this could be implemented is no small subject.

2. Freedom of expression

Human rights are a relatively recent occurrence. Far older is the practice of branding your children with a communal brand. For Hebrews it was circumcision. For many African and American tribes it was neck, lip, skull, nose, ear, penis, or skin modification. Many of these are were not, to my knowledge practiced as a religious symbol but, more likely, as a tribal symbol or brand. I confess that I am ignorant about that subject so that is mere speculation on my part. In any case, body modification is definitely a matter of self expression and continuing such a tradition with your offspring could be viewed the same way. Again, I would agree that freedom of self expression should not extend to your children but I'm not so sure that this would be universally agreed upon by all cultures.

I'm tempted to come up with other ideals but I think I'll stop here. If I haven't expressed my position yet I doubt more words will help.
@The Meag

"So I'm calling shenanigans on your FoE argument. It just doesn't cut it."

Fair enough. You're right. My response about freedom of expression was weak.

My original intent was to point out that public policy can go against our personal ideals in unexpected ways and this is why we should be cautious about using public policy to achieve our goals. I cannot think of anything comparable to circumcision which such a policy could also apply to but the possibility exists that it could applied to other unforeseen things.

If the practice of circumcision were criminalized there would also certainly be backlash from those who feel that is it required by their god and religion. This would manifest in underground procedures, protests, and probably violence.

I am struggling not only with the participants of this discussion but with myself. When it started I had no feelings about the subject but now that I've considered it I still have no clear idea of what the solution may be. I do not believe that a sudden institution of public policy to stop the practice is the ideal solution at this time. The more peaceful, albeit slower, solution would be a public campaign along the lines of the the atheist ad campaign.

Circumcision of girls in the USA is already illegal. Has this led to some sort of total government control? I don't think so. Circumcision is really not a big part of that issue and to suggest otherwise is fear-mongering.

I'm not sure what kind of evidence would convince you that male circumcision affects sexuality. You might visit the site created by an American woman who claims to have experienced a difference and then performed surveys for other women. A little bit of investigation will also find that internet sites such as youtube have many men describing the difference that circumcision has made to their sexual experience.

Moreover, if you just consider the logic of removing 15 square inches of erogenous tissue which is the most densely nerve-laden part of the penis, thusly rendering the penis immobile and permanently exposing the head, you must admit that negatively impacting sexuality is quite probable. All accute organs of sense, such a the penis, eyes, and tongue, are what I call pseudo-internal. They are biologically internal to maintain sensitivity through protection and lubrication. Removing the eyelids or permanently exposing the tongue would most definitely affect one's ability to see and to taste.

Considering the concept of evolution and the evolutionary process, all male mammals have a prepuce and the human bodies of male and female were 'designed' to come together with genitals intact. It makes sense that if parts of the genitals are amputated or excised that this will affect the mechanics of the sexual union.

And for the more scientifically-minded, there is the study by Sorrells et al which concluded that the five most sensitive parts of the penis are on the foreskin, the most sensitive part of the intact penis is more sensitive than the most sensitive part of the circumcised penis, and that circumcision ablates the most sensitive part of the penis.

The aesthetic preference for a circumcised penis is largely isolated to the USA where the circumcised penis has become the norm. It is true that most American porn contains circumcised men, but there is also a great demand for porn containing intact men, especially within the gay community. In most other countries the standard porn is largley intact.

The USA is world-renowned for having a very twisted and solipsistic view of "beauty", largely fueled by commerce and ignorance, and leading to untold suffering among its population, especially the young. Outside of the modern US with all its dysfunction, the intact penis has not only been considered normal by other cultures but also aesthetically pleasing. Recall Graeco-Roman culture and indeed the whole history of western art.

Secular circumcision did not begin the USA for aesthetic reasons but for socalled medical ones. It was introduced in an effort to inhibit masturbation. It wasn't until the second half of the 20th century by which time the procedure had become well established that people even began to consider the look of the circumcised penis as "normal". And it wasn't until the end of the 20th century that people began to claim it was more attractive.

As a gay man I can say that I most definitely prefer the aesthetics of an intact penis, as well as its function and sensation. In fact, I have seen many circumcised penises that were outright grotesque because of botched jobs, which are more commmon than you'd think. Excessive scarring, chunks missing, skin bridges and skin tags; I could go on. There is no way I would consider these things to be cosmetic enhancements or aesthetic improvements. Even "good" circumcisions still often involve skin discolouration and drying out of the glans.

It would be wrong to consider circumcision or the pursuit of beauty to be modern human ideals. Circumcision is an ancient practice, and humans have been trying to make themselves look better for millennia. You are using a really twisted logic here to justify circumcision. By your reasoning we should also support foot-binding in old China.

Circumcision is a permanent amputation of healthy functional significant erogenous tissue, and in most cases it is done to non-consenting minors and infants. This will not do. I don't care how much you cut or trim or shave your hair, it will grow back. Even if you pull it out by the roots it will eventually grow back. The same is true of nails. And neither hair nor nails have nerves and blood vessels.

The opposite extreme isn't total government control, its total liberty of the child to wait until he or she is able to consent to make permanent cosmetic changes to his or her body.


it doesn't matter whether there is any impact upon the body or not, the fact is that its the sexual mutilation of a minor, before that person can consent. What if the child would grow up thinking it more appealing to have a foreskiin? Why not let the child decide when he's old enough to?


Its not about how you raise a child. A child isn't your personal property, a child is a living breathing autonomous being. There should be some constraints on what a child can or can't do, which are regulated by parents, but within reason.

I agree with you on ear-piercing , but I didn't want to tl;dr or get too far off-topic in my post. More generally, it seems obvious that no parent should be allowed to force unnecessary body modifications on their children. Or animals, for that matter :P
Wow that pic is crazy. The only body mod I would support for animals is getting them spayed/neutered, or other medically necessary things. Declawing gives animals a lot of issues. It's just furniture.


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