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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Is that why you're always smiling ? LOL
I agree with the assertion that comparing Male and Female mutilations is not helpful.
BOTH are Heinous because the infants or children involved have no say in the matter, affecting them to varying degrees when they are older.
The type of extreme FGM where all a girls nerve endings are destroyed lots of flesh is removed and then she is sewn shut - with only a tiny hole for urine and blood to pass through Extremely slowly - where their future husbands literally have to cut them open to have sex???? yeah that's the kind that bears little similarity to male circumcision as it causes the woman lifelong pain and suffering on a regular if not constant basis. I have seen one short film with graphic depictions of such mutilations and I am very much scarred for life. In the film the husbands wanted thier wives "sewn up" (& I quote) "for the same reason you lock you apartment when you are not there!" Yeah ... So forgive the people who have seen such images - or indeed lived through it for reacting strongly when someone makes a comparison to Male circumcision. That being said I think male circumcision speaks to many Many types of abuse that get hidden under the macho creed of "Don't be a wimp or a pussy" "Be a Man" - boys get beat up by other boys usually for no reason- are taught to stifle their emotions, take physical risks in underpaid jobs and suppress much of who they naturally are b/c of often bizarre expectations of "Manliness" and the Manliness is very much policed by other men and boys (and women too!). I believe this is a huge part of the reason this is not talked about as an issue of abuse. Real MEN aren't victims - Real Men don't whine / cry / hurt etc etc on to absurdity! That and - honestly - most men I know do NOT want to discuss penises in this sort of light at all!
It is Atrocious that taking a knife to little boy penises is accepted or approved of for any reason!
It is on the whole disgusting! FMG Makes me vomit!
My take on this would be to consider the foreskin from an evolutionary standpoint and to look at the incidence of foreskins in the natural world.

Rarely are there found appendages or phenotypical features (observable characteristics or traits of an organism) that are mere incidentals or byproducts of evolution. Invariably there is a cost to having brighter feathers, longer eyelashes or elaborate arrangements of skin and so it's very likely that, even though we might not be able to discern it, there was and still may be some advantage to having a foreskin.

If this hadn't been the case, those ancestral humans that didn't waste their energy growing and maintaining one would have been able to allocate what they had saved on other traits that would confer on them greater reproductive success. Thus, a genetic makeup that did away with the "wasteful" foreskin would have become more common in the evolving species of homo sapiens and we wouldn't be where we are today.

And certainly, if having a foreskin conferred on those that did have one, a reproductive disadvantage (producing fewer offspring that those who had less of one) then it would have disappeared long ago!

As it is, male humans and males of many other mammalian species have skin covering the sensitive end of their reproductive organ.

Sadly, unless you undergo the transition as a post-sexual adult, you'll not be in a position to say whether sex was better with or without a foreskin. My own suspicion, having been cut soon after birth on grounds of hygiene alone, is that uncut men may have longer-lasting and more satisfying sex. In my view the glans, post circumcision, turns rather leathery with some inevitable loss of sensitivity. The cushioning and protective effect of the additional skin is probably also lost.

Anyhow, I do believe that there's some strong evidence (from Africa) that uncut men are more susceptible to contracting AIDS and, given what I've said above and the massive reduction in the area of thin and delicate skin that would otherwise have been enveloping the glans I can quite see the rationale behind this. Consequently, there might be a case for recommending it where efforts to promote safe sex through the use of condoms fail.

There really isn't a hygiene case to be answered and so the remaining question is an ethical one: is it right to mutilate a baby boy without consent and frequently without anesthetic? In my view definitely not and we should be doing more, contemplating the gratitude of future generations who might escape this barbaric ritual, to make it the morally reprehensible practice that it is.
Your thoughts about the evolution of human genitalia are interesting but they ignore one simple fact. Homo sapiens is, for the most part, no longer a product of natural selection. I have even heard it proposed recently that we have moved on to a new species called Homo evolutis because we have achieved the ability to evolve ourselves by various means.

That isn't to say that the human foreskin doesn't serve some beneficial function. It just means that the foreskin is now absolutely irrelevant to the act of reproducing.
I always wonder if that's really true? Our intelligence IS part of our natural evolution. We continue to survive because of that. We run our societies on that basis. We don't kill the weak, but as a species we survive because we take care of each other. That seems to me to be a natural product of our evolution, could just be a matter of opinion though. And I could just be wrong-I'm no evolutionary scientist.
I think about 90% will disagree with me on this, but IMO we have already passed a crucial 'singularity' point. Please bear with me as this is a thought in progress.

Knowledge used to be 'special', knowledge, before the printed press (mostly) passed on through generations verbally, or to elites via rare manuscripts.

In this sense, the logarithmic multiplication of certain 'strains' of knowledge was limited to an individual's functionality or elite status. The barriers to the transmission of knowledge were so great as to impede not only changes in knowledge, but also changes in culture.

The advent of the printed press democratised knowledge, made knowledge accessible to all humans who give a damn, no matter their ethical/moral training/preparation appropriateness.

Knowledge (and skills), in some areas more than others, has grown beyond an individual's scope, in any given field, if one person doesn't fit the bill, another person is sure to come along to build upon the written knowledge. This theory is put to the test in the realm of scientific research. According to studies, 90% of scientific knowhow has not been written down per se, it lives in the minds of the academic scientists around the world. Their 'mind' knowledge is passed on through graduate students. I'm mixing 2 concepts here, bare with me...

The fact that only 10% of scientific know-how exists in wide access print, means that if there were a great catastrophe, and these scientists were lost, the unshared 90% of their understandings and knowhow would be lost to the world.

But before the advent of the press, if a 'knowledgeable one' died, ALL their knowledge was lost.

Humour me for a couple of paragraphs :)
And consider the printed press as the first singularity, the ability to pass on knowledge without the originating human; and according to scientific assessment, we've printed 10% of our cumulative knowledge; and new digital technologies are allowing knowledge to get farther and farther out of our individual hands/control, then... our knowledge does not reflect our beings.

In other words, IMO of course, humanity up until the printed press, still acted as individual Homo sapiens, living in tribes yes, but still our individual knowledge was mostly linked to our humanity. Now that our knowledge goes beyond our individual human experience, the 'Whole becomes more than the Sum of the Parts', and human society becomes more and more akin to bees and ants vs bears or monkeys.

The singularity I see is this: for all of human evolution, humans have been more akin to monkeys, but suddenly, in the past 500 years (a mere spec in evolutionary terms) we've transformed from monkeys to ants/bees. 500 years is nothing in evolutionary terms.

There is therefore a strong chasm between our biology (the result of eons of evolution) and our social structures (increasingly independent of human life).

So to contrast your words: "our intelligence IS part of our evolution", I'd say yes, the knowledge within each individual may be in-line with evolution, BUT the knowledge of humanity as a whole IS NOT in-line with humanity's evolution. And this gap will continue to grow. I usually don't like discussing singularity, because it compels so many gadget and futurists fanatics. But in essence, I think we passed it...

I do believe that humanity's intelligence IS NOT part of our natural evolution as humans. It is now self-replicating, our knowledge is no longer defined by humans, but simply by the technology meme itself, knowledge replicating itself.

Foreskins make sex easier therefore more pleasant for females (eyes closed for the disdainful). Anything that makes sex more pleasant will contribute to procreation.
"I think about 90% will disagree with me on this..."

I don't. I think that was a good summary. Intelligence and knowledge would only play a role in the evolution of our species if they provided some advantage for reproduction. As I said in another comment though, very few people are unable to reproduce and the few that are unable are generally restricted by physical or cosmetic attributes (sterile or ugly).
Tom, I suspect that this comment is buried in the long discussion, and as Smiling Eyes noted, is important to remember. Not only in this discussion, but any discussion that equates past evolution with current and future human development.

Certainly, if a risk/benefit and cost/benefit argument could be made for circumcision based on health, wellness, comfort, function, then maybe it would fall under the categort of being a procedure like vaccines - obviously a bit invasive, done to the bodies of infants, but vaccines are not harmful (except rarely) and are very beneficial for individuals and for their "herd immunity". Same for corrective procedures. Who would argue against, say, a procedure to open the eyes of a newborn that could not otherwise do so? I just dont thing circumcision benefits anyone (except exceedingly rare cases of deformation) and that there is risk to many, and harm to some, and wasted expense to an overburdened health care system.

Your comment about evolution would also apply to diet (we were not evolved TO eat our current human diets - we evolved partly AS A RESULT OF prior diets that may not benefit us now), activity (we did not evolve TO sit on our butts at desks and in cars. We evolved from people who hunted/gathered, then farmed, then gathered in cities, formed governments, fought wars). We probably also evolved, in the past 4000 years, as a result of religion. People who did not accept religions were killed off, people who flourished under religion reproduced effectively. Even though religion is false, there may be a human tendency to be religious partly as a result.

I don't want to derail this topic - it should stick to circumcision - but your point would be a valid discussion on its own.
Thanks for the response Daniel. It doesn't sound like we're in disagreement here. Nevertheless, let me clarify what I meant for everyone's sake.

Natural selection favors individuals who possess traits which increase their opportunity to mate. Consequently, their traits are passed on to their descendants and kept in the gene pool.

Modern humans have very little barrier to procreating. Sterility is really the only barrier. Artificial insemination gives even the most challenged couple the option of procreating. Furthermore, Homo sapiens no longer has any natural predator, generally speaking, which means that the obese, mentally challenged, and physically challenged also have high chances to mate. I'm trying to not generalize here. Of course natural selection still plays a small role but it seems insignificant when compared with the rest of the animal kingdom.

In order for circumcision to be considered a barrier to mating you would have to show that it affects copulation in a relevant way. Considering that circumcision has been practiced for at least two-thousand years it seems unlikely that the argument could be made that it affects copulation. As I said before, I'm not trying to argue that it has no affect whatsoever but simply that when it pertains to natural selection it is irrelevant, as are most things.

I am not a biologist so if I have misrepresented natural selection I welcome correction.
My take on evolution is that every specimen is a transitional form between its ancestors and its descendants, even if social selection has reduced the role of natural selection in determining who gets to breed. To be successful, a breeder doesn't just have to mate, his or her offspring need to survive. Socialization traits which give rise to a peaceful society can be conducive to the survival of ones offspring. A gross human rights violation like a systematized involuntary non-therapeutic amputation could play a role in de-stabilizing a peaceful society.

I believe I am following an urge - instilled in me by evolution - to work for peace and harmony for all mankind. Where there is injustice there can be no stable peace. Taking exquisitely pleasure-receptive body parts without informed consent is a gross injustice. I work to end it out of compassion for the victims, but indirectly - and more selfishly - to make the world a more peaceful and habitable place for my offspring.
A gross human rights violation like a systematized involuntary non-therapeutic amputation could play a role in de-stabilizing a peaceful society.

What is your evidence for this? Is there a correlation between circumcision and civil unrest around the world? In the USA?
Hi,
My evidence that a chronic abuse of human rights for a whole class of people causes unrest? I said "could" for a reason, but whenever people are marching through the streets chanting "no justice no peace" - whether regarding gay marriage, separate but equal schools, or whatever - the case is made.

We MGM victims will again take to the streets of DC on March 31st. We're peaceable; for now.

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