Save the Foreskin; Save the World

This is a real thing:

I like it. Anything to raise awareness about genital mutilation.

Also: Hehe. CAN-FAP.

(via Joe. My. God.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687121933 Carrie Looney

    I know I’m going to get beaten to a pulp for even asking, but are there good studies showing sexual dysfunction with properly performed infant circumcision?  I’ve seen the ‘an adult foreskin has nerves’ kind of thing, but I’d like to know the functional consequences.  The few decent studies I’ve found on PubMed don’t really report much difference overall.

    I have no dogs in this fight at all – I have no penis, and I’m never going to have a child, so I’m not going to have to make that decision myself.  I’d just hate to demonize someone who looks at the facts and makes a decision one way or the other based on a long-term risk/benefit analysis (a decision based on religion and/or tradition, of course, is a poor one). 

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17419812
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15833526

    • CelticWhisper

       As someone who objects to circumcision on principle (an infant cannot consent or object and, 9 times out of 10, circumcision is not medically necessary), and whose dog has already lost the fight, so to speak, I should hope you will not be beaten to a pulp for making an honest inquiry.

      Those who would beat her to a pulp: are we not skeptics and rationalists?  Respond to inquiries with dispassionate fact.  There is a time for passionate argument but it is not when responding to someone who has already made an honest effort to inform themselves.

      That said, I regretfully state that I haven’t kept up on this issue as much as I should and have no fact to offer in response to these inquiries.  My passionate argument follows, and should not be taken by Carrie (or anyone else) as an attack or condemnation, except as against the practice of circumcision itself.

      I think that banning infant circumcision (except when medically necessary) is a key part of the overall larger fight to delegitimize tradition.  The only reason it’s permitted for male babies and not for female babies is “we’ve always done it that way.”  Win this and we gain a new weapon in the fight against tradition: the “that’s what they said about mutilating newborn penises” argument.

      My take: Fight this on principle – it should have nothing to do with sexual dysfunction and everything to do with bodily sovereignty, same as abortion, birth control, and euthanasia.  A newborn infant cannot understand the procedure and thus cannot be expected to consent or object to it, and the procedure is irreversible and nonessential.  There are, in my mind, no ethical grounds for supporting the practice because of this alone.  Potential complications are only added fuel for the fire.

      Allow it for patients over the age of majority who can give informed consent (and, I daresay, can prove they are not being pressured into it by meaningless (read: any) tradition or religious family members), but do not permit it to be performed on infants except in cases when major medical problems could result in its absence.

      • Onamission5

        Very well put. I would add to your point of circumcision being irreversible and nonessential that it is also painful. Nothing like peeing on an open wound for a couple weeks when you’re brand new to the world. It is an amputation performed on one of the male body’s most sensitive regions, for crying out loud.

        Maybe that’s what we need to be calling it to get the point across: unnecessary infant partial penile amputation.

      • Robert King

        @CelticWhisper:disqus So your argument based, not on science or fact, but on “the overall larger fight to delegitimize tradition”?

        I hope you’ll understand that Jews and Muslims consider this reason to be a matter of prejudice, of unreasoning disrespect or even enmity toward their people and their culture.

        I hope you’ll understand that other cultures, regardless of their stance on circumcision, could justly oppose this argument based on exactly the same ground: it is outright cultural oppression. They might even extrapolate to racism, and not entirely without reason.

        If you want to argue against infant circumcision, fine. But do so on the grounds of science and reason, not on ideological prejudice.

        Does circumcision harm a man, either as infant or as adult? This is a legitimate question. There are good arguments that it does. But a “fight to delegitimize tradition” is at best culturally insensitive and ultimately philosophically suicidal. (As are arguments about consent; should we wait till kids are old enough to consent to make them eat properly or go to bed on time? I understand that circumcision is a more extreme act, but to put the burden on “consent” suddenly changes the whole nature of parenting.)

        • CelticWhisper

          Frankly, I could give a damn about any of their cultures if those cultures mandate irreversible bodily mutilation to be performed upon children.  If their religion calls for it, then that religion is flat-out WRONG and I’ll gladly say so.  That’s where I draw the line on “tolerance.” The Torah or the Qu’ran or the Bible call for it? Then the Torah or Qu’ran or Bible are full of shit and fucking valueless. Usable only as toilet paper and all that jazz.

          Are they oppressed by banning circumcision?  GOOD, let’s oppress them.  I hope it hurts like hell, right down to their little theorized, nonexistent souls.  They can cry me a fucking river and I’ll laugh in their faces while I arrange for state custody of the kids they sought to butcher.  If their traditions are so important to them, they should have no trouble convincing their children to actually want to be circumcised of their own free will by the time they’re 18.  There’s no excuse for forcing it upon a child.

          There is no reasonable way to compare circumcision to putting kids to bed early or enforcing proper dietary habits.  Neither of those are biologically unnecessary, and neither are painful or cause irreversible damage to the body.  They are minor decisions with demonstrable benefits, and they can be reversed at the child’s discretion once the child becomes an adult.  To even suggest a likeness seems disingenuous on your part.  Even the brattiest kid will tell you they’d much rather choke down that asparagus and go to bed without watching their favorite cartoon than have pieces of their body chopped off for no good reason.

          • Nordog

            What if the circumcision takes place on a clump of cell in utero 24 hours before live birth.  Then consent can not be an issue.  Right?

            • Thegoodman

               Haha! I love this angle.  Touché.However, most would agree that 24 hours before birth the fetus could be considered a child. At this point, the fetus could survive if the mother perished so as long as someone took care of it.First or second trimester circumcision is the only type to which I will approve.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C6A4TBCEGDYSN6YG5ATKFQ6RSU Hugh

                 Be careful of what you wish for. Some day first or second trimester circumcision could be possible. (It would have to be by GE since the foreskin only forms during the the third trimester.) Circumcision and abortion are still very different issues.

        • Thegoodman

          Your comparison of eating properly, going to bed on time, and circumcision as parts of parenting are absurd. Unless of course you mean you physically force food down your kid’s throat and have to tie them up to a bed every night at 9:00pm. In which case, they are comparable, they are also all 3 child abuse.

        • Thegoodman

           Banning slavery was once very much opposed by the Christian’s who had “rights”. Often times the “right” to do harm to someone else is no right at all.

    • David

      Define sexual dysfunction!!!

      But that is a red herring.  It is a consent issue.

      • Kirkda Khan

        We do not seek a baby’s consent to immunize it from a host of diseases. Consent is not an issue. At that age, parents make decisions in the best interest of a child. Whether you agree with those decisions or not is irrelevant.

        • Sparky

           That’s not an equal comparison. 
          Immunization = prevention of potentially deadly infection
          Circumcision = removal of a healthy body part from a healthy baby

        • kagekiri

          Consent IS an issue, and your analogy is terrible.

          No person wants to die of disease who is in anything close to their right mind, so making decisions to stop a kid from hurting itself makes total sense. They don’t want to die or be grievously injured, and being unhealthy is miserable.

          Thus, you stop them from jumping off cliffs or tables, you stop them from playing on highways, you take them to get their shots, you feed them healthy food they might not like at first.Permanently scarring a kid for beliefs they don’t yet hold? That’s hardly the same category as protecting and nurturing them until they’re responsible enough to make their own decisions. In fact, it’s the opposite: it’s making a permanent, unreversible choice for them that physically harms them for no particular benefit. If they were cutting off baby’s toes, knowing they’d never grow back, you’d be okay with that? “Oh, don’t worry, they’re barely conscious, and my religion thinks not being able to walk properly is better for their souls and a sign of cultural belonging! They’ll never even miss them, because they’ll live their whole conscious lives without them! I don’t have toes and I turned out fine!” Let them cut off their own toes, their own pieces of skin, when they can choose.

          Hell, even physically branding them or getting them tattoos when they’re barely sentient would be MORE REVERSIBLE and actually VISIBLY a sign of your religious affiliation.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C6A4TBCEGDYSN6YG5ATKFQ6RSU Hugh

           Vaccination removes nothing and offers strong protection against deadly, contagious diseases of children, now rare precisely because of vaccination.

          Circumcision offers debatable, slight protection against already-rare ailments of late onset that can be better prevented by other means or treated as they occur.

          There is no other decision quite like this one, to cut a normal, healthy, functional, non-renewing part off a non-consenting person’s body. It would be illegal to cut any other such part off , such as the earlobes. The most nearly corresponding part of a girl’s body has special legal protection (and don’t tell me I can’t compare infant male gential cutting with infant female gential cutting – especially the minor, surgical kind done to babygirls in Malaysia and Indonesia in the name of Islam – when you’ve just compared it with vaccination).

    • Danceswithretards

      i don’t know if it causes any kind of difference in sexual function in adults. but i do know that it’s essentially torture. we would throw people in jail for cutting off the small toes of their children, even though it probably wouldn’t do them any harm as adults; because torturing children is psychopathic.

    • Thegoodman

      I agree with David, it is an issue of consent. There are many reasons why an adult may or may not elect to get circumcised, and he should certainly be allowed to make this decision when presented with the data.

    • Michael

      27-38% of men who were circumcised as adults reported sex becomes less enjoyable according to a study published in the May 2002 edition of The Journal of Urology.

      • vexorian

         I am uncircumcised and proud. But I think it shall be very hard to make a study like this without being subject to subjectivity and biases. I think that any change on that beloved part of my body would raise my self awareness much and make me feel I am enjoying it less.

      • Nordog

        Less enjoyable than what?

        • Michael

          Than before they were circumcised

          • Nordog

            Babies had sex before they were circumcised?

            • Nordog

              Oh, never mind, I see the point was referring to adults being circumcrised.

      • Kirkda Khan

        Don’t mislead by omission – in that same study, 50% of men reported benefits to sexual function, and 62% of men overall were satisfied with being circumcised.

        In that same issue, another independent study concluded:
        Circumcision does not appear to have adverse, clinically important effects on male sexual function in sexually active adults who undergo the procedure.

        • Michael

          Indeed, which means that if you are willing to take the highly significant risk then there is a chance you may benefit. Excuse me for not being willing to gamble my dick on anything.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C6A4TBCEGDYSN6YG5ATKFQ6RSU Hugh

       How do you define “properly performed”? There is no dotted line and God failed to tell Abraham exactly how much to cut off.

      There is a ridged band of >20,000 specialised nerves running round just inside the tip that is always cut off, but it is at the doctor’s whim and skill whether also to cut off the frenulum, where it attaches to the glans (head) underneath. (Doctors may not even know whether they are cutting it off or not.)

      Many circumcised men call the frenulum “the male G-spot”. It is the ridged band that confers not just “more sensitivity” but “a symphony of sensation” and cutting it off is like ripping out the accelerator pedal and leaving (or not) an on-off switch. He can still get there (“I can still reach orgasm”) but he doesn’t enjoy the journey so much, and many women complain that (circumcised) men are too goal-driven and have to pound too hard for comfort.

      The two studies you cite, incredibly, didn’t look at the foreskin. (One looked at the foreARM and found intact men were less sensistive there, which is interesting but unexplored.) 

      Sorrells et al. (Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis BJU International 99 (4), 864-869)  found circumcising removes the most sensitive parts of the penis. Frisch et al. (Int J Epidemiol. 2011 Oct;40(5):1367-81) found more sexual problems in circumcised men and their partners.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    might want to remind people that the link has a NSFW image/video right under that poster.

  • Thegoodman

    I have heard a litany of reasons why mutilating the genitalia of a male child (but oh no no no not females, that’s just WRONG!) is a sound decision. Every single one of them (that I am aware of) are related to adult penises.

    Unfortunately I was circumcised as an infant. My parents made this decision because that’s what everyone else did to their sons. This was before they were even aware of any health risks of being uncircumcised. My mother honestly told me she elected to do it so “you won’t get made fun of in the locker room, haha”. I am lucky in that I received a pretty good circumcision from a medical doctor in a hospital and have not suffered anything for it (that I can remember of course, I am sure the procedure was horrifying to my infantile self).

    I have encountered few people who take this topic seriously. WE ARE DISCUSSING CUTTING PARTS OFF THE PENIS OF AN INFANT! How is that not serious? “Well, everyone is doing it.” is the dumbest fucking reason on the planet for doing anything.

    Adult males can do whatever they please with their penises, they can cut them part of the way or all the way off for all I care, they are cognizant adults who can do with their body as they please.

    I am 100% opposed to circumcision and will not allow this mutilation to happen to my own son should I ever have one, tradition be damned.

  • dorothy30

    in canada circumcision is MUCH less common than in the US, where i understand it is still done pretty much routinely. my daughter-in-law is american, and when she was pregnant she raised the issue with my son who was HORRIFIED that she would even suggest it (he is not circumcised). it began to fall out of favor here at least by the early 80′s (my son is 26). our  government funded health care will no longer pay for it, which puts subtle pressure on many families to skip it just due to cost.  the rate at which circumcision is declining is now picking up speed as more and more people decline and ‘intactness’ becomes more the norm. obviously, of course, men who were not circumcised as babies become even more reluctant to inflict this on their own children, as my son’s case shows

  • dorothy30

     see my comment

  • vexorian

    So, they have great healthcare and now this? It sounds like paradise lately.

  • Sparky

    This is on the East Coast as well.  I was on vacation in Ocean City, MD a few weeks ago, and there was a gentleman on the Boardwalk with a large sign protesting against circumcision, with a petition for signatures.

     The appendix is a useless organ.  Why don’t we cut it out of every newborn from here on out?  I saw this on an episode of “M*A*S*H*” a few years ago.  They called cutting a healthy organ from a healthy person mutilation.  Can someone explain the difference?

  • GeraardSpergen

    I Googled the “forced circumcision clinic” – I think that protest is unwarranted.

    CAN-FAP… ROFL

  • Ken

    First, the argument for circumcision is not a health issue.  As such, it should not even be raised in a hospital setting, ever.  Second, how many adults would voluntarily have the procedure done just because a funny old man in a dress says so?  Third, this is just painting a target on the Jews, which has cursed them throughout history, and this was a blessing?  Fourth, when that helpless, harmless, inarticulate, completely innocent baby is screaming its little lungs out, its not from happiness — what in hell is anyone thinking inflicting this kind of pain for no good reason?  It’s just sick, not sanctified, and the perpetrators would otherwise be registered sex offenders.  Extremely Orthodox mohels draw the blood from the wound with their mouths — and there is any debate protecting such child abuse?  For shame.  And shame on God for being such a deranged pervert (if he even exists).

  • CanadianNihilist

    I don’t see the problem. I was circumcised. I was a baby so I didn’t care. I don’t recall it hurting, and the ladies love it.

  • Anonymous

    This is awesome. I’m proud to live in BC! I hate it when people subject innocents to painful and permanent cosmetic procedures, including piercing their babies’ ears or docking their dogs’ tails.

  • Bo Tttait

    Just throwing my experience in there. I was 4 when I was circumcised and it was done for medical purposes. I can still remember being on the operating table. I don’t remember any pain though so I’m pretty sure there was an anesthetic involved (and I doubt a Canadian doctor would do it without)
    I don’t remember having any pain after the procedure. Actually I remember loving it. I had a giant wad of gauze on my dangus and I thought it was hilarious. I had also recently seen Ghostbusters, and aptly named it the marshmellow man.
    I’m not trying to prove anything, just putting out my story. Its not all torture and broken penis nightmares, or a source of deep pain.
    For me it just is what it is.

    Another thing I’d like to put out there. How legitimate is it for someone supporting male circumcision to frame the argument in terms vaccination? Given the evidence the procedure reduces the risk of HIV infection by approximately 54% for heterosexual men and that children often become sexually active before the age of consent, is that an angle you would think about? Would is stand up in court if the tradition was being challenged legally (Germany)?
    Provided that only medical experts perform the procedure with an anesthesiologist present to minimize pain and possible side effects, would that make the possible negative outcomes essentially any more dangerous than that of any other vaccination given to children?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EQLOHY577QZOMMABRWNTED63FQ fredr

    It is a hypnotic cabala witch curse when they repeat lies and try to guilt and
    shame young men into cutting off their masculine prepuce, as these wicked
    bitches have prepuces too and know the sexual arousal functions of their own
    prepuce. Both sexes prepuce function to cause sexual arousal and can be cesspols
    for diseases, if not cared for, but what they say is only the male one should be
    excised. Circumcision and excision in place of education on prepuce functions,
    hygiene, and safe use is sexism and racism and a human rights violation and a
    paranoid delusional superstition. They present scientific fiction to promote
    genital mutilation, a subversive form of eugenics. It is done before puberty only to prevent men from knowing what they are missing. It causes psychological and physical dysfunctions to our reproductive parts of our brains forcing our brains to compensate for the loss, or savantism, which may also be in a risky and harmful way, evil genius. 


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