The Problems with Male Circumcision: An Interview with the Producer of American Secret

Francelle Wax is the producer of a film called American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda which takes a close look at the problems with male circumcision. More broadly speaking, it addresses the ideas of how ideas spread, why we believe in rituals that serve relatively little or no benefit, and what it would take to change our beliefs.

Francelle was kind enough to answer my own questions as well as those solicited from friends:

Hemant: I was raised with the understanding that it was cleaner and healthier to be circumcised. Is there any truth to that?

Francelle: For those with access to soap and water, hygiene is not a concern. If you were to take an intact child and a circumcised child and abandon each in the wild without the means to bathe, the circumcised child might fare better than the intact child. Obviously, such a hypothetical ought not serve as a basis for how we should do things in the United States in 2013.

This contention about health benefits never fails to elicit laughter from our European and Australian friends. The notion that it’s rocket science to keep oneself clean seems to cement our reputation as an extremely gullible nation that appeals to local authorities too often.

A little boy’s genitals require no maintenance beyond washing. Foreskin should NOT be retracted in young boys. Many American physicians don’t know this and forcibly retract at early pediatric visits, which can lead to complications that prompt the doctors to berate parents for not having circumcised their sons. In 80% of boys the foreskin does not fully retract before age ten. This is not a pathology, it is normal development.

Hemant: How did the religious ritual of circumcision come about? Do most parents circumcise kids for religious or cultural reasons?

Francelle: In the United States, the vast majority of circumcisions are done in secular settings for non-religious reasons. Reasons cited [include] that a father wants his son to look like him or concerns about hygiene fueled by the fear-mongering around that. Often times hospitals and doctors and nurses really hard-sell circumcision. Sometimes the circumcisions elected for religious reasons are done in clinical settings because parents do not prioritize the ritual. The secularization is the focus of my film, so I know more about that area of it. That said, while I describe myself as a practicing atheist, I was born and raised a Reconstructionist Jew, so I’ve been to my fair share of cousins’ brises and know what we were taught in Hebrew School, that God instructed Abraham to circumcise himself and his sons, both Ishmael and Isaac, and that this is why both the Jews and the Muslims circumcise.

There are different claims as to the derivations. I am not qualified to say which have merit, or which is the most plausible. I have heard it said that one likely explanation is that this was done to Jews by their captors, and that the Jews subsequently sort of took on the sign almost Stockholm Syndrome-style, after living with it for generations. But again, this is well outside my realm of knowledge.

Hemant: Do circumcisions (done by a professional in a hospital at a young age) really harm men in the future? What am I missing out on by not having foreskin?

Francelle: Circumcision can be harmful to men, boys, and their partners throughout life.

Skin bridges are a common result of circumcision. As the wound heals, a portion of remaining foreskin adheres to the penis and ultimately results in painful erections. Skin bridges can be difficult to correct later in life, and the corrective surgeries are not typically covered by insurance. Meatal stenosis — a narrowed urethra — is another common side effect. This too can require surgery.

And these are frequently the outcomes of circumcisions deemed “successful.” Severe and immediate complications include:

(1) Plummeting blood pressure.

(2) Allergic reaction to anesthetics. Most anesthetics aren’t approved for children under six months, so they’re used off label. Their efficacy is questionable, as well. Adequately anesthetizing the region requires 8 injections around the penis, a painful experience in its own right. Hurried clinicians often proceed before the anesthetic takes effect.

(3) Hemorrhaging.

(4) Infection.

(5) Death. While deaths are rare, the complications cited above are often recorded as the official cause of death, and the preceding circumcision is left off the books. Consequently, assessing the overall risk of death from the surgery itself is difficult.

Although most circumcised men feel like their sexual functioning is just fine — barring severe dysfunction, it doesn’t come naturally to people to miss what they’ve never had, particularly when it could lead to the belief that there’s something irreversibly “wrong” with them — there’s no getting around the fact that the procedure removes much of the most sensitive tissue.

Hemant: Is it true that male circumcision reduces men’s sexual pleasure? (I would think most men, including circumcised ones, would argue their sex lives are just fine.)

Francelle: Touch sensitivity tests have identified the most sensitive regions of the male genitalia; in intact participants, these are all on the foreskin. Circumcision removes approximately 50% of the nerve endings on the penis, among these, fine touch nerve receptors called the Meissner Corpuscles. We all have Meissner Corpuscles in our fingertips; in the penis, they are only present on the foreskin. These are unique nerve endings which provide very nuanced feedback. Partners of intact men report that they have a better ability to pace themselves and greater control than do circumcised men, and this is almost certainly due in part to the presence of Meissner Corpuscles.

Most men become interested in the issue in middle age after noticing a loss in sensitivity. This is typically written off as “normal aging” by the American medical community. In fact, a decline in sensitivity is often the result of a mucous membrane being stripped of its protective coverage and left to dry and callous over decades. The lack of moisture can also contribute to unpleasant dryness during sex, which may help explain the fact that the United States has a higher demand for products designed to combat vaginal dryness than most comparable countries.

To check for motivated skepticism, consider the following hypothetical:

Imagine that a new group is gaining cultural traction in the U.S. They perform a procedure called “Supercision” on their male infants, which removes more tissue than is removed during a circumcision. They prefer the look of the “supercised” penis, and there is some evidence that the procedure reduces the risk of some STIs (although certainly not enough to render condoms obsolete). Suppose that the “supercised” men swear up and down that they enjoy sex immensely, yet touch sensitivity tests show that the most sensitive region on their penises is only the sixth most sensitive region on a circumcised man’s penis. How many circumcised American men would line up to get the new procedure?

I don’t mean to make the point that all default natural states are optimal — but all surgery carries risks, and circumcision in particular has long-term consequences for a person’s sexuality.

Hemant: Do you think we can really convince parents that what they’re doing is wrong? Is the trend reversing direction?

Francelle: As long as parents or doctors have to admit to wrong-doing, I don’t think we will. It’s unfortunately far too stigmatizing for people to be associated with wrong decisions and actions, especially irreversible ones.

I expect that the decline will come in a very non-dramatic fashion: insurance companies will cease to cover the procedure, which means that doctors will broach the subject differently from how they currently do. Some parents will continue to pay out of pocket and push for it, but over time, the social pressure of needing to look like peers will be a non-issue.

With respect to trends, the numbers dip and rise. There is a fair amount of variation across the nation, with numbers as high as 80% in the midwest and as low as 30% on the west coast. Nationwide, 54.5% of all newborn males are circumcised.

Hemant: How should we deal with the cultural taboo against uncircumcised men? Don’t most porn movies feature men without foreskin?

Francelle: Only American porn.

The squeamishness factor is NOT an intractable problem. There isn’t something in the American water supply that causes little girls to mysteriously develop into adult women who pathologize the natural male body. American women think of foreskins as “unclean” and “unhealthy” because as little girls somebody told them to think that circumcision was a way to make men more clean and to improve their health. Australian girls don’t grow up to think that intact men are unclean or unhealthy, nor do little Norwegian girls or Irish girls or Canadian girls or Polish girls. And there is a very simple reason for that: because no one in a position of authority ever told them that they should.

The same is true in gay culture: boys who are told that they were circumcised for the sake of their health grow into men who are primed to view intact penises as maladies.

We are pretending that this is more difficult than it is. Don’t instruct children to have a warped view of the natural body and this problem goes away in a generation. Problem solved.

Hemant: Are there *any* benefits to male circumcision?

Francelle: There is a reduction in the likelihood of UTIs and penile cancer such that your risk drops from already-infinitesimal to slightly-less-than-infinitesimal. If we’re going to employ that line of reasoning, then there are a number of body parts that we must preemptively strike down before we rid ourselves of foreskins. Risk of penile cancer: 1 in 1000. Risk of breast cancer: 1 in 8. And yet I hear no one advocating for the forced removal of breast buds in children who have the abnormal genes that indicate a very high risk of breast cancer.

Sex feels great in part because of our sensitive skin and mucous membranes. Forcing the hardening of a mucous membrane can accord some protections, but it comes at a cost. The question at hand is whether that cost should be imposed on a person before he is able to consent to it.

Hemant: Male circumcision is not considered as big of a deal as female circumcision, which we know is a major problem in other countries… so why focus on the men in this movie?

Francelle: When meant in earnest, this protest is as valid as any other “we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time” defense — which is to say, not very. You don’t have to ignore female genital cutting in order to be against male genital cutting. Nobody is attempting to recruit those hard at work trying to prevent FGM to abandon their efforts and work exclusively on male circumcision.

There is also a huge accessibility factor. The United States faces resentment from female-circumcising cultures for “barging in” and asserting its views about how they should look. Tackling our homegrown issue of male genital cutting gives us more credibility when we make recommendations to other cultures regarding their children’s right to bodily integrity.

I aspire to be an “early adopter” regarding ethics. I try to be vigilant for potentially-harmful social norms that aren’t adequately justified by the available evidence. I’m also fascinated by why two groups — in many respects similar in culture — diverge on a particular point. That’s what first interested me in circumcision: I attended University in the UK and watched the jaws drop on my English classmates when I casually mentioned that in America, circumcision is routine.

In learning more about the issue — the anti-masturbation agenda which catalyzed the practice, the present day profit incentives, the stories of circumcised men who actually reflected on what had been done to them and chose to leave their sons intact, the parents who circumcised one son but went on to regret the choice, the doctors who at one time circumcised patients but went on to recognize the harm and abandoned this practice — I saw a complete story arc for an ethical issue that is largely neglected. And I saw an interesting way to present it; a way which I think will give people the objectivity needed to make them aware of our national bias around this issue.

Hemant: Finally, just as a point of curiosity, was it weird being a woman, making a movie about the male anatomy?

Francelle: Men and women in the movement are generally happy whenever there’s positive press on their activism. The reel for my film has been incredibly well-received by both men and women in the movement, and no one seems to care about my gender. If anything, a few men have appreciated that a woman would care about the issue enough to make a film about it.

I was privileged to be permitted to film an approximation of a multi-chapter NORM meeting (NORM being the National Organization of Restoring Men). This is where men discuss and get advice on the different techniques and devices used for skin-stretching, and sometimes show the improvement that they are making in their restoration. (Restoring is painless and, if performed regularly for 1 to 4 years, can accord men full coverage of their non-erect penis and recreate some of the benefits of a foreskin.) A number of men shared their experiences and progress very openly with me.

To learn more about the American Secret movie or to make a donation to help the filmmakers, check out their website.

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.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    this is such a tough issue. i can honestly say i don’t understand why some men and women choose for their sons circumcision. obviously, i object to a mythological reasoning to do it. at the same time, i grew up in the midwest, and i know that uncircumcised men are discriminated against, by their peers and some women.

    but i agree that in a just sense, it should be compared with female genital mutilation. we evolved with our parts for a reason, chopping some of them off because some mythological stories says it should be stupid.

    i took an anthro class about some native peoples in australia. this particular group had a “subincision” practice. they did not circumcise, but they did take a young boy’s penis (around age 2, iirc) and cut a long strip along the underside. then, they would rub ash and wood into it, making a ‘tattoo.’ the reasoning was that this helped men understand women better, by ‘creating’ a vagina/slash on their genitals. it was part of their religious beliefs. obviously, most of us in that class were horrified by such a practice and called it ‘barbaric.’ yet here in the “civilized” west, we accept genital cutting of males because… Moses or something.

    • Ders

      Not sure why this is a tough issue. I’m uncircumcised, and live in the midwest. Most other males I know are circumcised, but I wouldn’t say I’ve had any real negative effects from being different. I’ve fielded questions from females and males alike, and some sexual partners never really even noticed. I think this will be a non-issue in a generation or two when people actually start thinking about how nonsensical and unethical it is to do this to a child.

      One of my exes once asked me a lot of questions about it because her sister had her first son circumcised but did not want to go through that again with her second son who was on the way. She admitted that it took a while for her to even realize that I was “different”.

      • Gus Snarp

        This is pretty much my experience. No one has discriminated against me in any way, male or female. I was bullied for a lot of things in high school, but no one ever once mentioned my foreskin, even in the gym locker room. I still want to know who these women are who are supposed to be quizzing men on the first date about whether they’re circumcised, or who go in for close inspection the first time they have sex and say, oh, now that I see you have a foreskin, never mind. I’ve never met them, and I’d have no problem moving on to someone a bit more enlightened if I had.

        • Michael

          Honestly, you sound like you’re describing a woman with a body-modification fetish.

          Which is fine, but they ought to be honest if that’s what they’ve got.

          • Ders

            He said he, like I, had never met these types of women. I’ve fielded some questions about it. Honestly, meeting a girl who has never seen an uncircumcised penis is like meeting a Christian who has never met an atheist. Most are just curious and want to know if what they’ve heard about it is true. Only a rare few make a big deal about it.

  • C Peterson

    In actual fact, however, the medical evidence continues to grow that (male) circumcision is medically beneficial… and significantly so. Australians and Europeans may laugh (lets not forget that in much of Europe, at least, homeopathy is treated as mainstream medicine, and the anti-vaccination movement really started there), but much of the best medical evidence comes from comparing Americans (where circumcision is common) with those places, where it is not.

    • Ders

      Please cite all of this medical evidence. Also take into account the statistical comparison between breasts and penises mentioned in the interview above.

      • C Peterson

        I feel no more need to cite established evidence about an established claim than I do to cite evidence for global warming or evolution. In the case of well established mainstream science, the burden of evidence is on the deniers.

        I do consider the cultural rejection of male circumcision to be very interesting. It is one of the rare areas of science denial that has selectively attracted political liberals (along with anti-vaccination). In most cases science denial is found among conservatives. But clearly, not always.

        The religious roots of circumcision are absurd, of course, but that doesn’t automatically require that the procedure itself can’t turn out to have benefits totally unrelated to the original purpose. If evolution teaches us anything, it is that we are not designed, that we are not physically ideal, and that we have many vestigial structures, some of which we are better off without. We are the only animal with the ability to improve ourselves over what nature made of us.

        • Gus Snarp

          Except that this is a case where global experts in pediatrics actually do disagree. That’s quite different from the “disagreement” on climate change, for example.

          It is my understanding that, as the interviewee noted, the health benefits only look significant if you just look at the percent reduction, not if you look at the total risk, which is so incredibly low at the outset that it seems pretty hard to justify elective surgery on a minor, let alone an infant.

          With regard to STDs I think the reduction is more truly significant, except that, while the numbers are big, they turn unprotected sex into a lottery with fifty/fifty odds instead of a shooting gallery. While condoms reduce the risk far, far more. There’s a real problem with telling people they’ve had surgery that reduces their risk of getting STDs when it’s still very high risk, instead of telling them they need to use condoms.

          • Nate Frein

            And honestly, by the time the kid is old enough to get STIs (unless something is horribly messed up in his life) he has the ability to choose the surgery for himself.

            It certainly doesn’t justify the procedure being done to infants.

        • Ders

          Wow….global warming comparison? You do realize that only the American medical community (which has financial incentives in place to perform circumcisions) really supports this and even then there is significant debate within the community. Even the HIV studies in Africa have been questioned. Unless you can find me something from a global medical authority saying that there is a consensus that male circumcision is recommended, I’m not buying your brush off here.

          • C Peterson

            I’ve seen nothing to suggest that financial motivations (which are, in fact, trivial) have in any way influenced the studies that have been conducted.

            By and large, American medical research is the best in the world; there is really nothing arguing against it in this area. There is very little in the way of actual research conducted in this area outside the U.S.

            In any case, I see this as clear science denialism. I think that getting a male baby circumcised is as medically valuable as vaccination, and not something that is wise to avoid… especially as no negative consequences have been demonstrated whatsoever.

            • Ders

              So you’re still unwilling to show us where it says that circumcision is “as valuable” as vaccination?

              You in this conversation: “i can’t believe you guys are denying this. I shouldn’t need to provide ANY evidence for this.”

              Anybody find this problematic? Anybody?

              • C Peterson

                Read what I said. I’m stating well established science. The burden is on the deniers to demonstrate their view. Oh wait… there isn’t any science supporting that.

                • Ders

                  You are merely asserting that you are stating well established science. You are not actually stating it. Even the damn wikipedia article talks about the debate going on about this. You have been asked multiple times to show evidence and you won’t. That is why you are going nowhere with this.

                • C Peterson

                  So where is your evidence?

                • RobMcCune

                  Of course these vague nebulous benefits are supported by vague nebulous science.

                • Agrajag

                  Yes, we’ve registered that you -claim- this is well established science. We’ve also registered that you’ve said you don’t need to support that claim, and that you’ve refused to entertain the idea that we should pre-emptively remove female breasts to reduce breast-cancer risk. (a much more substantial risk)

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive
            • tim

              “By and large, American medical research is the best in the world; there is really nothing arguing against it in this area. There is very little in the way of actual research conducted in this area outside the U.S.”
              rather argocant. Per capita the UK wins more Nobe prizes and publishes more papers

            • Brad Thompson

              Americans are biased by their own culture of genital mutilation.

        • Mario Strada

          I can’t say I agree with your stance on this. When someone is doubtful of evolution, I have no problems presenting what evidence is relevant to the question at hand. I do the same for Climate change.

          The US is unique in this obsession with male circumcision and this cultural habit was initiated not for any hygiene reason but in the belief that it would curb masturbation.

          Only later, when this excuse was no longer fashionable, doctors came up with the hygiene excuse. An excuse that this very article dispels. Also the fact that most of Europe and Australia do not practice it and their dicks don’t fall off at alarming rates should tell us that it is a mostly unnecessary procedure.

          I say mostly because there are cases where the procedure is justified. When my brother turned 10, the doctor found that he had a problem that required circumcision. Basically his foreskin was too tight and surgery was, at least at the time, the only option.

          I have to say, that I detect a less than rational reaction on your part. Especially comparing this to antivaxxers and climate change deniers seems to me excessive.
          Antivaxxers base their assumption on faulty science. In the case of circumcision the faulty science is strictly with the US medical establishment. Doctors elsewhere have quite different outlooks on the matter and the superiority of US medicine might have been true at some point, but it’s largely a myth today, along with the US Health care system being “the best in the world”. Newsflash: it’s not.

          • Mogg

            Just thought I’d mention that circumcision was relatively routine in the past in Australia – for those now in their mid-thirties and up it was more common to be circumcised than not, depending on your ethnic background – my partner, who had European-born parents, was not, but my first boyfriend, who was as Anglo-Aussie as they come, was. It doesn’t, as far as I can tell, result in teasing or comment, because everyone is used to the concept that some boys have been cut, and some haven’t. The idea that someone would have a baby circumcised solely to look like Dad seems particularly weird – explaination seems to me to be far less risky and traumatic than surgery.

            • C Peterson

              I’m not aware of any social stigma associated with being uncircumcised in the U.S., but maybe that’s just the circles I associate with. In any case, I agree that getting a baby circumcised just to look like dad is only marginally more rational than doing it for religious reasons.

        • Sven2547

          Seriously? You’re comparing the trivial and debatable pros & cons to male circumcision to the overwhelmingly proven sciences of evolution and climate change?

        • sailor

          “In the case of well established mainstream science, the burden of evidence is on the deniers.” I have never seen anything that shows any really major benefit for circumcision. Unless you can give me the relevant evidence (I can certainly pointy you in the right direction with global warming) I have no reason to believe what you are writing. At this point I believe you are in error.

        • JKPS

          Well-established? You literally just said that the evidence is “growing.” That’s not the same as well-established; in fact, I (and many other commentors) have heard that the opposite side is the well-established one, while the evidence for circumcision being medically beneficial is waning, not growing. If you’re going to make claims, not back them up, and then absolutely refuse to back them up, then don’t make those claims!

        • Mogg

          I, for one, would like to see this research you claim, seeing as what I have seen seems to indicate that the benifits outweigh the risks only in Sub-Saharan Africa where HIV is endemic and access to soap, condoms, antibiotics and HPV vaccination are likely to be problematic. In a developed country where education and hygeine can be easily provided, UTI’s can usually be easily treated, and the availability of a more effective STI barrier like condoms is high, routine painful and appearance-altering surgery on a newborn seems to me to be unethical.

        • http://twitter.com/lucaswiman Lucas Wiman

          Medical research on the benefits of circumcision uniformly ignores the personal costs of circumcision. Given that most of the benefits are private and nearly all of the costs are private, unless the benefits are overwhelming (and they’re clearly not, even if they’re real), we shouldn’t perform this operation on children without their consent.

          • C Peterson

            I’m not aware of significant costs, given that the actual complication rate is very low (and the serious complication rate even lower). The benefits, however, are both private and public. I’m not sure how to quantify “overwhelming”, but my reading of the scientific literature leads me to believe that the benefits are both significant, and that they outweigh any identified costs.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

              And how low IS the serious complication rate, especially death? The AAP didn’t find any statistics so it just threw up its hands. A Brazilian study found a rate of one death in 7,700 circumcisions, which would translate to 156/year in the USA. That may be low, but for the parents to whom it happens (and even more to the baby) that’s too high for unnecessary surgery.

              A court has ruled that patients must be warned of a risk of one in 14,000 (and that was “only” for loss of sight in one eye after surgery in the other). Are they ever warned of the risk of death from circumcision?

            • http://twitter.com/lucaswiman Lucas Wiman

              “I’m not aware of significant costs, given that the actual complication rate is very low (and the serious complication rate even lower).”

              Except, you know, not having part of your penis cut off. That’s a real cost, just not one that figures into most cost/benefit analyses. Also most of the risk analyses use data from Africa where both the prior risk of STIs is higher and the use of condoms is lower than in the US.

              Good discussion here: http://models.street-artists.org/2012/08/22/how-to-lie-with-statistics-number-283941-circumcision-propaganda/

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

          Only in the USA (or a Muslim country or Israel) could anyone say with a straight face that infant male genital cutting was in accord with “established mainstream science”.

          38 top paediatricians, heads and spokespeople for 22 paediatric associations in Austria, Britain, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands and senior paediatricians in Canada, the Czech Republic, France and Poland disagree. They say the AAP’s policy is culturally biased, fails to prove its case that “the benefits outweigh the risks” (based on its own figures) and gives insufficient weight to the human right of the child to grow up to decide the fate of his own genitals.

        • amycas

          I don’t think the “medical benefits” to male circumcision are as established as you think.

    • pete084

      Actually you’re wrong, we cringe on your behalf, you are desperate to justify an unnecessary procedure rather than admit America got something wrong.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

      [Citation needed]

    • Gus Snarp

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11732129

      The clearest medical benefit of circumcision is the relative reduction in the risk for a UTI, especially in early infancy. Although this risk [figure: see text] is real, the absolute numbers are small (risk ranges from 1 in 100 to 1 in 1000), and one investigator has estimated that it may take approximately 80 neonatal circumcisions to prevent one UTI.”

      Most of the other medical benefits of circumcision probably can be realized without circumcision as long as access to clean water and proper penile hygiene are achieved. Proper penile hygiene should all but eliminate the risk for foreskin-related medical problems that will require circumcision. Moreover, proper hygiene and access to clean water has been shown to reduce the rate of development of squamous cell carcinoma of the penis in the uncircumcised population.

      egarding the relationship between STDs and circumcision, patient education and the practice of low-risk sexual behavior make a far greater impact than does routine circumcision in hopes of reducing the spread of HIV and other STDs.

      The medical harms of circumcision lie mainly in the 1% acute complication rate and the additional patients who require revision of their initial circumcision for cosmetic or medical reasons.

      Clearly, the procedure provides potential medical benefits and potential risks. It is difficult to say whether the benefits outweigh the risks for all male infants.

      Now, I’ve cherry picked this review, but I think I’ve been pretty fair, and I’ve laid out the bottom line conclusion, which appears to be, we don’t know if it’s worth it or not. That’s hardly the same as vaccines and climate change.

      • Ders

        Thank you. It would be interesting to compare this to other medical procedures where we weight risks and benefits. It seems like if the risk and benefits are about equal, we shouldn’t really be doing this to infants. To me, that seems like arguing for placebos.

    • marylanser

      You said “male circumcision” is medically beneficial……but we are talking about circumcising babies, who are not at risk for STI’s. Why can’t a male be left as nature intended him and when he is mature enough to possibly be at risk for an STI……weigh out the “evidence” and decide for himself if circumcision is actually “beneficial” to HIM. Why do this to babies who are not at risk???? It’s unethical to perform unnecessary genital alteration surgery on a normally developed infant for “benefits” he might very well not agree with when he is an adult! His body = His decision…..when HE is old enough to make that decision for his OWN body!

      • AxeGrrl

        we are talking about circumcising babies, who are not at risk for STI’s.

        Exactly.

        When it comes to this specific issue (STDs/STIs), the reality is that condoms do a FAR better job of protecting against these things than circumcision does……..

        so why on earth would anyone advocate the far more damaging option?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

      “much of the best medical evidence comes from comparing Americans (where circumcision is common) with those places, where it is not.”
      OK, do that if you like, and you’ll find that other comparable First-World countries where circumcision is not customary (most of the First World) have better health stats than the USA. The English-speaking world tried circumcision (Australia and New Zealand cutting just as enthusiastically as the USA in the 1950s) but except for the USA, found it did no good and has given it up.

      But in fact, the best comparisons are not between countries but between men, and again, it is simply not true that circumcision confers any overall advantage.

      Europeans are not stupid and homeopathy is as controversial there as anywhere. Homeopathy is only entrenched in Europe because it started there. The country that gave us chiropractic and naturopathy and so much other quackery has no grounds for smugness.

    • Brad Thompson

      You’re a liar. There is no benefit to genital mutilation.

      Circumcision is a violent sex crime and the perpetrators should be put to death.

  • Sue Blue

    As a nursing student years ago, I was present at several newborn circumcisions, and it left an impression. A tiny, days-old baby boy is brought in, stripped naked, his arms and legs strapped down to a plastic board under the glare of brilliant surgery lights. A nurse (sometimes the nursing student) dips a pacifier into sugar water and plugs the crying infant’s mouth with it; the doctor swabs the genital area with Betadine or chlorhexidine, places a sterile drape, and injects lidocaine or marcaine around the penis. The infant turns purple from screaming, in spite of the pacifier. The physician pinches the foreskin with forceps to test for numbness; needless to say this isn’t too pleasant if the penis isn’t yet numb. He then uses a sharp spatula to separate the synechiae that adhere the foreskin to the glans, pulls the foreskin up, attaches one of two different devices (Plastibell or Gomco being the most common) and cuts away. It’s bloody and in no way painless for the infant. The visibly upset baby is then diapered, swaddled and returned to his parents, who usually are not present at the actual procedure….and all this because the parents want him to “look like Dad”. Most aren’t up on the actual disease-prevention stats; it’s much more likely just to be done because every other male in the family had it done.
    The ethical problems with this were apparent to me even as a green student. It’s a medically unnecessary invasive procedure done to a patient incapable of giving consent. Whatever slight future reductions in STDs or urinary infections it may or may not bring hardly seem to outweigh the very real risk of complications of the procedure itself. We don’t perform appendectomies or tonsillectomies on neonates to prevent future appendicitis or tonsillitis – why cut off a perfectly normal, healthy body part for some vague future problem that can easily be handled with hygiene? It’s obvious that its just a cultural thing that has its roots in religious superstition and sexual taboos and misplaced fears and distorted body images. Time for it to go the way of Chinese foot-binding and Aztec skull-molding.

    • Baby_Raptor

      My son was barely 12 hours old when they circumcised him…And they did it despite my saying I didn’t want it done. His father did, and his was the only opinion that mattered, apparently.

  • pete084

    Google Dr Henry Kellog and find out how circumcision gained popularity in America. Apart from inventing corn flakes he advocated circumcision as a preventative measure, and for none of the reasons outlined in the interview.

    • http://twitter.com/lucaswiman Lucas Wiman

      She did mention it: “the anti-masturbation agenda which catalyzed the practice”

  • Conspirator

    Frankly I don’t know what the big deal about this is. I’m circumcised, and like most circumcised males I don’t know what I’m missing and have had no ill effects from it. But what gets to me about the subject is the anti-circumcision crowd is so damn fanatical. They don’t come off rational at all. And look at the language this woman uses, intact child vs. circumcised child. As if I’m permanently broken from being circumcised. I just don’t trust these people, they remind me of people who buy into all the conspiracy theories in the way they talk about the subject.

    “And these are frequently the outcomes of circumcisions deemed “successful.”” I’d like to see a definition of frequently. Somehow I doubt the data supports that. It’s also interesting she states as one of the reasons it’s done in the US is fathers want their sons to look like them, I’ve more frequently encountered women who had their sons circumcised because they were concerned about the aesthetics.

    • Nate Frein

      So because you don’t know what you’re missing, you have the right to take it away from a defenseless child?

      • Conspirator

        Thank you for supporting my primary point, which is the irrational way in which circumcision opponents talk about the issue. I didn’t make a statement in support of either side. But you took it at that way and jumped on me for it. Nicely done.

        • Nate Frein

          So do you support circumcising infants?

          • Conspirator

            I personally don’t see any real harm with it, but also I see no rational reason for it. The only reason I can see for it anymore, at least within countries with good hygiene and medicine, is purely for aesthetics. If I had children, and the mother of those children said an uncircumcised penis would freak most girls out and she was insistent it be done, I’d probably just go with it. That may not be a good reason for most, but whatever. It’s not an issue I’ll ever likely deal with anyways.

            I don’t buy into the claim some make that the boy will be ostracized by his friends, because that’s certainly not something I ever heard discussed as a kid, and I didn’t make a habit of checking out my friends’ junk. So I wouldn’t accept that argument from the hypothetical mother of my children.

            • Nate Frein

              I never made that any of the claims you’ve attributed to me here.

              I’m asking you if you feel justifiable in violating the personal rights of a defenseless infant.

            • Brad Thompson

              That’s a pathetic reason for mutilating the genitals of a helpless infant.

        • Ders

          It’s not irrational to say that the child is defenseless. Are you saying that a child has some way to prevent this? Rationality is not about tone, it’s about applying reason and logic. Have you ever said something like, “why do we let Christians teach their children all of this bad science? these kids have no choice in the matter”? If so, you’d be accused of fanaticism and irrationality by Christians. Stop caring so much about tone and language use unless it’s patently deceiving.

          • Conspirator

            I’m criticizing him for saying I said something I didn’t.

            • Ders

              You’re criticizing everybody for saying anything here that resembles a strong opinion. Rationality=calmness in your view. We get it. Let people have strong opinions and talk about it how they want to. Thanks.

              • Conspirator

                So is it just wrong to discuss how someone is using inflammatory rhetoric and is not helping their cause by doing so? Sorry, I didn’t realize that if you objected to the way someone speaks about something you have to keep your mouth shut and are forbidden from expressing your own opinion.

                • Ders

                  You are just criticizing people’s methods, not their opinions. Then you’re taking personal experience (“where are the moderates?”) and acting like you know all the sides of this issue. Maybe there is a lot of rational, moderate debate going on that you just don’t see. Maybe the inflammatory rhetoric is working on other people. You just don’t know.

                • Dave

                  We aren’t talking about a handshake here, we’re talking about amputating half the skin off of a boy’s genitals as he’s strapped down in horror and anguish.

            • Nate Frein

              No. I was asking for a clarification on your position.

              • Conspirator

                Sorry Nate, I took that as being a rhetorical reply as I’m being attacked just for criticizing people for being irrational about this.

                • Nate Frein

                  Sounds like you’re behaving in the same “knee-jerk” reactionary way you’re accusing other people here of doing so.

    • Gus Snarp

      As an uncircumcised man and opponent of circumcision, I think you’re right. Frankly, we’re not helping to reduce circumcision when we use language that suggests parents are “wrong” or that there’s something “wrong” with circumcised children. I don’t think parents should opt for circumcision, but I don’t think demonizing them for it is going to help. And we certainly should not be telling the children there’s something wrong with them. There’s not.

      I agree on “frequently” as well. I don’t know that we should be spouting things that ought to have number associated with them without the numbers.

      On the other hand, I’m deeply troubled that anyone thinks its acceptable to have surgery performed on their infant for aesthetic reasons, which makes it a bit hard to keep away from the demonizing language.

      • primenumbers

        “On the other hand, I’m deeply troubled that anyone thinks its acceptable to have surgery performed on their infant for aesthetic reasons, which makes it a bit hard to keep away from the demonizing language.” – exactly, it’s hard to criticize what amounts to unnecessary cosmetic surgery than can have complications without criticizing the decision of the parent that wanted it applied to their child. But we don’t hold back from demonizing parents that allow their children to die because they didn’t want them to see a doctor. Somehow circumcision gets a cultural pass.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Locuta-de-Bjorg/100002398034010 Locuta de Bjorg

        Parents who fall for the cock-and-bull story given to them by the for-profit medical industry are not the demons here; if anything they are the victims too but most will never figure that one out. I agree with you on that count. If any group is the “bad guy” to be demonized, it is the doctors who do it and the for-profit medical industry that has basically turned them into highly-trained whores.

    • Jordan Sugarman

      I don’t understand the logic of people who think “I don’t care, therefore anyone who thinks it’s a serious issue is irrational.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

        THANK you!

      • Conspirator

        I didn’t say that, but thanks for putting words in my mouth.

        In a lot of controversial areas there are people who are able to make sound and reasonable arguments on both sides, and then there are fanatics on both sides. But this is one case where I don’t see fanatics on the pro side, most people are along the lines of “m’eh, whatever, it’s just the norm” and then on the other side it’s all “OMG, it’s horrible, the poor child will never recover form this!”.

        And as I’ve said, there are rational arguments against it, so focus on those. And in modern society there’s very few, if any, reasonable arguments for circumcision. I see no reason for me personally to take up arms against it, and I’m not planning on having children so it’s not something I’ll have to deal with. But if you want to push for real change, you’re going to have to be a lot more reasonable about it.

        • Ders

          Just because you see no reason to “take up arms against it” doesn’t mean other people can’t or shouldn’t. This argument is pointless. When did you become the judge of how reasonable people are being. You should watch this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDnfnM7fiKc

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

          You don’t see fanatics on the pro side? How about a professor of microbiology who thinks preventing zipper injury and “bathroom splatter” are good reasons to circumcise, and says it should be “compulsory”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74BjXjR8FdM

        • amycas

          I don’t understand what wasn’t sound or reasonable in the interview above.

        • Conuly

          You don’t think that advocating that infants have an optional, irreversible surgery with a real risk of side effects for no reason other than that “it’s normal” is fanatical?

    • Ders

      This sounds like “atheists are so damn fanatical”. Everyone who disagrees with you isn’t fanatical. Sometimes they are just right and happened to care about unethical things being done to people who can’t consent.

      • Conspirator

        As I said, it’s the language they choose to use and the way they act about it. It’s also bothersome that so many of the anti-circumcision crowd just have to butt in where it’s not necessary, like in discussions about FGM, which is a far more severe problem.

        There are rational arguments against male circumcision, but groups like NORM, and the rhetoric used by others doesn’t help the situation.

        Consider PETA. They are absurd. Animal rights are important, I don’t like animal abuse, I don’t like circuses and rodeos for the most part, I don’t like fur either. Fortunately there are other reasonable groups out there that work on these issues. Sadly, I haven’t seen that with the anti-circumcision crowd.

        • Ders

          You’re “butting in” on how people are allowed to voice their concerns. Instead of talking about the tone, let’s talk about the issue. We are taking infant males, performing surgery on them for vaguely understood reasons, and pretending like this is totally normal. It’s not, and it should probably stop. Tell me exactly how I’m wrong there. Don’t even start telling me about how I’m harshing your mellow or whatever.

          • Conspirator

            Ders, I’ve read most of your posts here, and you are not coming off as one of the fanatics, except in your tone toward me for criticizing the way people argue about this. How am I affecting how “people are allowed to voice their concerns”? I’m not a moderator here. I’m not the police. I can’t stop people. I’m just trying to inform these people that they aren’t going to win many converts if they keep acting this way about it.

            I guess I could use the word insane to describe the majority of the anti-circumcision crowd, but that seems harsh. My choice of the word fanatic is to describe their inflammatory rhetoric that is going to turn away people that might otherwise be convinced to join their side.

            Is it really so wrong to offer advice to people along the lines of “tone it down a bit”? People like me, who can see arguments on both sides, will look at the anti-circumcision people and just say “WTF?”. When I see someone making emotional arguments that defy logic, or use inflammatory language to support their cause, I’m going to be turned off by it.

            • Ders

              My problem is that anger and rhetoric are important tools that you should not deprive people of. That Greta Christina video I linked above is an eloquent way to say this. Telling people to “tone it down” is all to frequently used by a majority trying to quash a vocal minority. It scares me when people say this.

              • Conspirator

                But is this really such a huge problem where people have to take that route and only that route?

                On the Atheism front we have all types, from the friendly and reasonable, to outright fanatics who use hyperbole, all getting the word out. It’s great. It provides different viewpoints and it can appeal to different people in different ways. But on this anti-circumcision thing, I’m mostly seeing the extremists (is that better than fanatical for you?). I’m not seeing any moderates on the anti side, and I think that hurts the cause.

                Does that explain my position well enough? Where are the moderates?

                • Ders

                  I’m a moderate on this issue. Moderates are often quieter. I have never been actively engaged in stopping this practice, but I believe it should eventually be stopped. I don’t think it compares to FGM, but I think that things can be bad without having to be the worst. Now that you’ve met a moderate, are we OK here? Let’s just say that Americans have this weird opinion that circumcision is basically the only obvious choice and that this practice is obviously normal. Just take like 10 seconds to think about that fact and it will seem weird to you.

                • Conspirator

                  I have thought about it, I have expressed support for that stance. When have I not? Where have I ever said “because these people are loons I’m going to be pro-circumcision”? I haven’t, but I’m being treated as if I have. Ridiculous.

                  Wow, expressing opinions here is fine only if you agree with the original post, right? No conflicting views allowed apparently. I’m not telling anyone to stop talking about the subject. I’m just criticizing people for how they talk about it, and yet I’m being repeatedly told not to do that.

                • Ders

                  Then you and I can be moderates about this and support the stance that circumcision is a practice we could do away with and let other people have stronger opinions and stances about this. It’s not that you’re disagreeing, it’s that you’re disagreeing with HOW people are disagreeing. It’s a meta thing that’s not dealing with the real issue.

                • Nate Frein

                  Who here advocated for taking only that route? Your entire first post was accusatory and inflammatory and so when people start to defend themselves you act like they’re advocating for just that tactic?

                  You’re either being obtuse or being a troll. These people are responding to your criticisms of this particular tactic.

                • Nate Frein

                  You’re not allowing any moderates in this conversaion, Conspirator. Look at how you reacted to me when I asked you to clarify your position.

                • Conspirator

                  I apologized already. But obviously dissenting opinions aren’t allowed in this discussion so I’m done with it.

                  I was wrong, everyone who supports circumcision should just be put to death. Is that better?

                • Nate Frein

                  Isn’t that the exact kind of hyperbole you were complaining about?

                  Tone trolling doesn’t feel so good when you’re on the receiving end, eh?

                • Ders

                  You can have whatever opinion you want, and use whatever means you want to get it across. Use evidence and don’t complain about people’s tone or rhetoric is all we’re really saying. No need to apologize and no need for sarcasm. That’s all.

                  My points on here today have all been about either a) my experience or b) my objection to complaining about tone or rhetoric

            • AxeGrrl

              When I see someone making emotional arguments that defy logic

              Please explain how advocating for a male’s autonomy over his own body “defies logic”?

        • The Captain

          Way to they to claim the high road, while doing everything you accuse the other side of doing.

          ” it’s the language they choose to use” yea and you fucking too buddy. You’ve accused everyone who does not agree with you of being “fanatical” and not rational while justifying it by claiming that since fanatics exist, everyone not you must be one. You’re the one using the inflammatory rhetoric while acting all innocent about it. You want inflammatory rhetoric… you’re being a coy douche bag. (and that has nothing to do with whatever you may or may not think about circumcision, so don’t bother with your cross).

        • amycas

          Actually, I’m against PETA because of some of the positions they take, not because of their rhetoric.

    • The Captain

      I’m just going to show the gender and cultural bias you are showing in this post by changing a couple words and hypothetically making the speaker be a woman from lets say Africa.

      “Frankly I don’t know what the big deal about this is. I’m circumcised, and like most circumcised females I don’t know what I’m missing and have had no ill effects from it. But what gets to me about the subject is the anti-circumcision crowd is so damn fanatical. They don’t come off rational at all. And look at the language this man uses, intact child vs. circumcised child. As if I’m permanently broken from being circumcised. I just don’t trust these people, they remind me of people who buy into all the conspiracy theories in the way they talk about the subject.”

      Kinda revolting now isn’t it?

      • Conspirator

        Actually you’re wrong and that is a ridiculous and unfair comparison, and once again supports my claims that you all are fanatics. FGM is often done at a later age, and removes the entire clitoris and basically makes it difficult for a woman to enjoy sex and that’s the reason it’s done. This would be more comparable to removing the entire head of the penis. There’s no claims that FGM is supposed to be beneficial to women or reduce the risks of infections or STIs. So don’t go there, it just looks bad.

        You need to focus on the whole issue of it just not being beneficial in modern society and that it may reduce sensitivity. Don’t try and focus on the supposed claims of “frequent” medical problems from it, or destroying sensitivity or other things that are balderdash. Don’t bring up NORM or anyone like that during the discussion.

        • Ders

          Calling people fanatics is worse than anything you’re accusing people of doing here. Old tactic, and it’s not going to work.

          • Conspirator

            It’s not like I said I am pro-circumcision because the anti side are fanatics. So you can criticize me if you want, but what you’re saying doesn’t make much sense.

            As I’ve repeatedly said, focus on the rational reasons, don’t use inflammatory rhetoric, don’t make emotional appeals, and don’t use inflated statistics.

            And by the way, comparing FGM to male circumcision is far worse than calling someone a fanatic. FGM is horrific. It is done cruelly and meant to cause harm and provides no medical benefits, nor has it ever been claimed to.

            • Ders

              If you don’t think male circumcision is done cruelly you should go to a hospital and watch a few.

            • 3lemenope

              Considering that most people make their decisions based on emotional criteria, telling someone to eschew emotional appeals in their arguments doesn’t make much sense. Pathos is part of the rhetorical triad for a reason.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

              “It is done cruelly and meant to cause harm”
              Don’t be silly. They don’t think it does harm. They think it does good. And the main “good”, taming sexual desire, has long been one of the explicit purposes of male genital cutting, only relatively recently in abeyance.
              “and provides no medical benefits, nor has it ever been claimed to.”
              Quite wrong. http://www.circumstitions.com/FGC-stititions.html

            • Dave

              We’re fanatics about bodily integrity and human rights, yes. Just like people are ‘fanatical’ against rape and murder.

        • http://twitter.com/RitualNick Ritual Nick

          Just look at the history of female circumcision in America. It was done for the same reasons as male circumcision and physicians considered it to be the same thing.

          https://sites.google.com/site/completebaby/female

          As late as 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics tried to bring female circumcision back to America. They called it a “ritual nick” without specifying how much could be cut. Could they cut some of the clitoris off with the clitoral hood?

          http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1988434,00.html

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

            Well the ritual nick was supposed to remove no tissue. The AAP said it would be “much less extensive than neonatal male genital cutting”. But the public outrage caused it to be withdrawn within a month. Double standard much? A US surgeon called Rathmann invented a device in 1959 for “female circumcision” with a shield to protect the clitoris: http://www.circumstitions.com/methods.html#rathmann (NSFW). That was covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield till 1977 and legal until 1996.

        • The Captain

          In the famous words of Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

          Ahh yea, “fanatic” is not some end all word you get to throw out there to shut down debate. “fanatic” also does not mean “not agreeing with you”. I’ve have literally posted two times ever on this issue on message boards mostly because I can see the debate is loaded with gender/cultural bias and double standards that makes this topic painful to watch debated. But because I don’t agree with the high lord Conspirator… I must be a “fanatic”.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Locuta-de-Bjorg/100002398034010 Locuta de Bjorg

          actually, buddy, you are the one who is wrong on all counts. Female circumcision (a generic word for modification of the genitals or “genital cutting”) rarely involves removal of the clitoris. Usually the clitoral hood is removed — the anatomical analog of the male foreskin and about 10% of the amount of tissue. In Asia baby girls are circumcised by doctors in clinics in hospitals. All cultures that do female circumcision claim that it is cleaner, reduces “infections” and STDs, smells better, looks better, and makes the woman more marriageable. One Asian Muslim man even claimed that circumcised women cook rice better! There are plenty of medical, sexual function, psychological and relationship problems caused by the practice of circumcising male children. In ever so many ways it is not beneficial to modern society. Genital cutting on children — boy or girl — has no place in modern society.

        • marylanser

          You shouldn’t speak about things you are not informed on…..FGC is very comparable to MGC….except that there are some degrees of FGC that are less invasive than a typical infant male circumcision! That said, the arguments for female circumcision from cultures who practice it are very much the same as are given for infant male circumcision. Do some research on it! The bottom line is that ALL medically unnecessary genital cutting is unethical…whether it be on a female or a male. Since 1997, it has been illegal to cut the genitals of girls in the U.S……..BUT boys are left out of such genital protection. How can this law be equitable? Only the person attached to the genitals should be making lifelong permanent decisions on how their genitals should look….when they are old enough to make an informed decision. Her body = her decision…..His body = His decision.

        • Randay

          Why not have pre-emptive tonsilectomies of appendectomies because of the chance of later problems? There are many anti-circumcision organizations you can consult, like Doctors Opposing Circumcision, CIRP(Circumcision Information and Resource Pages), even Jewish ones like the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center.

          Then there are legal human rights questions. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: “Article 24, part 3:

          States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.” Only the U.S. and Somalia have not ratified it. Further information can be found at CIRP and at http://www.circumstitions.com/Rights.html

          Finally, there are many pictures and videos on the net about circumcision, some by the organizations mentioned above. If after watching some, you still promote, I think something is wrong with you.

          • Nate Frein

            I like this point. I still have my tonsils despite the fact that every bad allergy season they get swollen and painful…but never swollen and painful enough that a doctor thinks it’s necessary to have an invasive surgery.

            Why aren’t doctors using that logic for circumcision?

            • Randay

              Thanks. It is nice to get positive feedback once in a while.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

          People who say you can’t compare male genital cutting with female genital cutting always consider only the worst kind of tribal female genital cutting. When you compare tribal with tribal, surgical with surgical, they’re very similar. Scores of boys die every year in one province of South Africa alone from tribal circumcision, and more lose their penises. The minimal, surgical kind of “female circumcision” done by doctors to babies in Malaysia and Indonesia in the name of Islam is very comparable to US male circumcision. Read this loving Malaysian mother’s blog and you might easily mistake the sex of the child: http://aandes.blogspot.co.nz/2010/04/circumcision.html

        • trevor

          “FGM is often done at a later age…”
          In Africa, Islamic cultures, the Philippines, and South Korea, male circumcision is generally performed after infancy.

          “, and removes the entire clitoris…”
          Not necessarily.

          “…and basically makes it difficult for a woman to enjoy sex…”
          Married African women who underwent FGM as girls firmly assert that they enjoy marital sex.

          “…and that’s the reason it’s done.”
          Africans often deny that this is a reason.

          “There’s no claims that FGM is supposed to be
          beneficial to women…”
          Cultures that perform FGM firmly assert that doing it is beneficial to women.

          “…or reduce the risks of infections or STIs.”
          There is western research, that has been passed over in silence, concluding that women who have had their labia minora removed as part of FGM, are much less likely to contract HIV.

          That male circ ablates the most sexually sensitive parts of the penis is pretty clear from Sorrells et al (2007). All other studies of the sensitivity of the penis only tickle the glans and hence miss this essential point. I know of no research design that can address the question of whether circumcised men have more or less fun than intact men. On the other hand, it is very easy to ask sexually experienced women whether they prefer cut or intact. I find it very curious that American defenders of circumcision do not seek women’s views.

          RIC is pointless in any way of life that includes a daily shower, and condoms freely sold in supermarkets as well as drugstores. Europe and Australasia see this as common sense. The AAP cannot see this, a deplorable situation.

    • Anna

      I totally agree. I don’t have a dog in this race at all, but the rhetoric of circumcision opponents often comes across as absolutely insane.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Locuta-de-Bjorg/100002398034010 Locuta de Bjorg

        The rhetoric of circumcision PROponents is what is insane! They advocate cutting off normal, healthy, highly sensitive and functional tissue from someone who is incapable of providing informed consent, but must suffer the consequences for the rest if his life. Who are the nuts here?

        • Anna

          Sorry, but I don’t agree. Conspirator made a very valid point. The rhetoric opponents of circumcision use comes across as insane to people who are on the fence or who don’t understand what the big deal is. People look at those comments and go “WTF, these people are fanatics,” which is certainly not good for the message they are trying to spread.

          It’s like with spanking. I’m an absolute opponent of spanking. I do not believe there is ever any excuse for hitting a child. But if I went around using extreme rhetoric, no one would take my position seriously. If I said slapping a two-year-old’s hand was child abuse, people would brand me as a fanatic, and rightly so.

          • Nate Frein

            Slapping a hand does not incur an irreparable physical change. Slapping a hand can be fixed.

            Cutting a body part off cannot.

            • Anna

              My point was about rhetoric. You can’t use extreme rhetoric and expect to be taken seriously. Some anti-spankers do use extreme rhetoric, and I think it hurts the cause.

              I can understand why someone might be in opposition to any sort of body modification performed on children, but the way it’s talked about is important. For most people in the United States, circumcision is viewed as normal. Many people have never seen an uncircumsised penis (I never have) and think of circumcision as inconsequential, the same as piercing a baby girl’s ears.

              If you want to change that perception, the way to go about it is not to start screaming about genital mutilation and making comparisons to what women and girls in Africa are forced to endure. People who have no strong feelings either way, or even those who may be mildly opposed, look at that and see it as crazy fanaticism.

              As I said, I don’t have a dog in this race and really don’t care one way or the other, but if you want more people to adopt your point of view, it would help to tone down the extreme rhetoric.

              • Nate Frein

                Cite the extreme rhetoric used in the original post.

                • Anna

                  Well, Conspirator thought that using the word “intact” represented extreme rhetoric. I would actually disagree with that, but he made a broader point about the anti-circumcision crowd in general and their choice of language, and that’s what I was agreeing with. The extreme rhetoric is in evidence all over the comment section.

                • Nate Frein

                  Cite examples, please. You’ve accused the people here of using extreme language and yet you offer no examples or counterpoints outside of hyperbole in comparing circumcision to slapping a hand.

                  You are tone trolling. You face no consequence from this tone trolling since you have decided that this practice has no impact on you (how you’ve come to that conclusion I have no idea. The fact that you’ve never even seen an intact penis says that this practice has indeed impacted you).

                • Anna

                  It’s true that I have no vested interest, but I thought Conspirator made good points because he is against circumcision but feels that extreme rhetoric is detrimental to that point of view becoming more accepted. And I agree with him because as someone with absolutely no background or particular interest in this topic, I look at the type of language used and comparisons made, and I am put off by it. I think a lot of people who don’t care one way or the other feel exactly the same way, and we are the people that you ostensibly want to convince. So our reaction matters, doesn’t it?

                  Why is it considered tone trolling to want to offer helpful advice? I’m not trying to dissuade you from trying to convince people that circumcision is a bad idea, just that the way many people go about it has the opposite of the intended effect. As for the language, if you read through the comment section and didn’t see it, then I don’t know what to say. I think you are not in the moderate camp if you don’t understand how it comes across to people who have never been exposed to anti-circumcision views and who don’t understand why it’s a big deal.

                • Anna

                  Also, I did not compare slapping a two-year-old’s hand to circumcision. I was making a point about rhetoric.

                  Furthermore, I didn’t see anything inflammatory or knee-jerk in Conspirator’s original comment.

                  But what gets to me about the subject is the anti-circumcision crowd is so damn fanatical. They don’t come off rational at all. And look at the language this woman uses, intact child vs. circumcised child. As if I’m permanently broken from being circumcised. I just don’t trust these people, they remind me of people who buy into all the conspiracy theories in the way they talk about the subject.

                  That’s his opinion, and except for his objection to the word “intact,” I consider it fairly spot-on. I think most people who don’t lean one way or the other or those who are mildly opposed have that same reaction. And it’s hardly the type of reaction that people in the anti-circumcision movement should want undecided people to have.

                  As for people not using that language right out of the gate, I’ve been on many parenting boards that devolved into a circumcision debacle straight away, and previous threads on Friendly Atheist have also gone the same route immediately, with plenty of examples of extreme rhetoric.

                • Dave

                  Boy what a pleasant world it must be to live in, where the worst you have to worry about is ‘inflammatory rhetoric’. As opposed to having 50+% of the nerves in your genitals amputated.

                • Anna

                  And this proves my point exactly. This is not how most men and women in American society see circumcision.

                • Nate Frein

                  That argument has been proven wrong for
                  Women’s rights
                  Gay rights
                  Black rights

                  Why are infant’s rights magically different?

                • Anna

                  I have no idea what extreme rhetoric you are referring to in regards to any of those movements, but regardless, I think we are getting absolutely nowhere.

                  If you don’t understand my point, then I don’t know what else I can say. You can use whatever language you want. I’m just saying that the use of such language causes people on the outside to respond to the anti-circumcision movement with bafflement or distrust.

                • Nate Frein

                  And I’m saying people have been tone trolling every rights movement in the country with those exact same words.

                  You have not rebutted any points here. You have made no substantive contributions to the argument. You’ve simply said “But think about the fee fees!”

                • Anna

                  What points was I supposed to be rebutting? I started off saying that I don’t have a dog in the race, and I still don’t.

                  The whole reason that I responded was to point out how the extreme rhetoric comes across to outsiders (like me) and to people who are mildly opposed (like Conspirator). Now if you don’t care how the rhetoric comes across to us, then fine.

                  If I’m a real-life example of a person you would like to convince, I am straight up telling you that extreme rhetoric is not the way to do it. That’s not hypothetical. That’s a fact.

                • Nate Frein

                  So you need to be “convinced” to respect a defenseless individuals human rights?

                • Anna

                  Oh, this is hopeless! You are a perfect example of what I was talking about.

                • Nate Frein

                  You’re a perfect example of how the greatest enemy of civil rights is the moderate who “has no dog in the fight.”

                  That you need to be “convinced” and spoken to “nicely” to see that something violates an individuals rights…

                  Words fail me.

                • Anna

                  Thanks for proving my point.

                • Nate Frein

                  Thanks for proving mine.

                • Anna

                  Okey-dokey. So I guess we’re done. There’s really nothing more to say.

                • Dave

                  Actually there’s a lot more to say. Just nothing more for you to say because you never had anything valid to say to begin with. Gential mutilation, involuntary amputation of valuable healthy body parts is still wrong, even for men. And nothing you’ve said has changed that.

                • Dave

                  Because we’re talking about boys/men here, and in the mind of women like Anna men have no rights.

                • Anna

                  You’re frankly insane.

                • Anna

                  They’re not necessarily, but you’re really going to have to work hard to convince people in mainstream American culture that circumcision is the same thing as racism, sexism, or homophobia.

                  I’m not saying it’s impossible for our culture to get to a point where circumcision is seen as a human rights violation, but it’s not at that point now and using the type of rhetoric that I have seen here is not likely to convince undecided people that it is. Most people think of it as normal and routine, akin to piercing a baby girl’s ears. I’m not saying that’s right. I’m just saying that’s how it is seen.

                • Nate Frein

                  So, you would say that it would be wrong to use strong rhetoric to speak out against slavery until enough people agreed that it was a human rights violation?

                • Anna

                  Are you seriously comparing circumcision to slavery? If you are, then we’re right back at the same impasse as before. I’m just saying to keep your audience in mind. The vast majority of people in the United States simply do not see circumcision as a human rights violation. To most of them, that would be a bizarre, even offensive statement.

                  I’m not saying that it would be impossible to shift the culture in that way, and I’m not telling anyone not to try convincing people that circumcision is wrong. My whole point about the rhetoric is not that people who are against circumcision should pretend not to be, but that the type of rhetoric that is used undermines the arguments for outsiders who have no idea why on earth they’re reacting that way. Look at Dave’s comments on this thread and see the bizarre accusations he lobbed at me.

                  To have such a bad misread on American culture just doesn’t make sense to me. How can anti-circumcision activists hope to convince anyone of anything that way? If they actually care about convincing people, I can’t imagine why they think this is a good or effective way to go about it.

                • Nate Frein

                  I know my rhetoric works because people have TOLD me it works. My own wife tells me that it was my anger, as well as my arguments, that convinced her this was an issue.

                  I have never told anyone that their approach was too soft. I’ll be damned if I have to ask permission to be angry. If not now, when? And who are you, happy to say you don’t have a fucking dog in the fight, to be the one to tell me when?

                  Anger works because it gives an emotional edge to sterile arguments.

                • Anna

                  But isn’t that a rather biased sample? What about all those people for whom your rhetoric had the opposite effect, only they didn’t tell you they felt that way? You may indeed have had an effect on your wife, but what about all those women whose husbands don’t have an issue with being circumcised, and whose only exposure to anti-circumcision views comes from what they read on the Internet? If they were turned off, they wouldn’t have told you about it.

                  I’m not saying you don’t have a right to be upset or to be angry. I’m just seriously questioning the efficacy of these methods. I’ll grant you that maybe anger does work for some people, but there are many issues where anger makes the whole argument seem suspect. I’m angry about a culture that views spanking as normal, but I try to avoid anger in arguments because people tend to perceive it as an overreaction. I think it’s really important to know your audience.

                • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

                  Oddly enough I agree. I am extremely opposed to the concept of infant circumcision and medical literature and real world observations provide information that it is a largely uneeded procedure and quite an extensive amount of information proves that it is mutilative. Granted this rhetoric is effective in places such as Europe or South America or New Zealand where the practice is largely viewed in distaste. When we encounter the United States the language needs to be largely modified considering a large portion of the population views circumcision quite differently in comparison to the rest of the world and language is highly effective. The language would need to be positive than negative and while the harms of circumcision can and should be mentioned efficacy lies in proving that it’s not a global norm and not necessary using medical terminology and aspects of emotional rhetoric. Think of it this way – imagine two posters one says “Thanks mom and dad for keeping my foreskin intact. There’s no reason for circumcision Love you !” (okay it’s not a good slogan but work with me lol) the other says “I hate you mom and dad how dare you have circumcised me ! I hate you !” .. Which poster will people be more drawn to and curious of and not scoff at ? The one with positive terminology.
                  As the movement gains more popularity there is more room for the negative language which ensures it dies out. That’s how we’ve effectively abandoned and illegalized female circumcision. So language does have a major implication…As for people who know it’s damaging or are presented with evidence theres no need to circumcise yet they still do with malicious intent..well they are revolting, but most American parents arent of this brand they assume circumcision is a positive and widespread and beneficial, they aren’t malicious, they are just unaware, they are doing what they believe is good parenting.

                • Nate Frein

                  Further, conspirator used inflammatory, knee-jerk rhetoric himself, instantly putting anyone who chose to respond on the defensive. To take responses to his nonsense and paint it as the typical introductory rhetoric used is fallacious in the extreme.

                • Brad Thompson

                  Is it wrong to call women are not subjected to FGM as intact?

                • Anna

                  I wasn’t the person who had a problem with the word “intact,” and there you go dragging FGM into the conversation.

                • Dave

                  So sorry your feelings were hurt by the strong rhetoric Anna, but hey at least you have your whole vagina! I on the other hand DON’T have my whole penis. Oops, was that ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ again? My bad.

                • Anna

                  Sigh. I’m not arguing in favor of circumcision, and this is the type of, yes, inflammatory rhetoric that makes people think anti-circumcision activists are insane fanatics.

                  Do you even have any idea of how circumcision is seen in the United States? Among people who have grown up only around circumcised men and boys? If you want to convince potential parents to stop the practice, I think it is only driving away those who are unsure, on the fence, mildly in favor, or even mildly against.

          • Brad Thompson

            You’re a sexist hypocrite.

            • Anna

              What on earth? See, this is exactly why it’s impossible to have a rational discussion about this issue. You’re proving my point.

              • Dave

                Yeah see, it’s irrational to compare female genital mutilation to male because females are inherently more valuable. That’s the underlying premise of your logic but you’re too afraid to say it. We’re just supposed to ‘get it’ because to you that’s what’s rational.

                • Anna

                  That’s creative. Males and females are equally valuable. Now, if you want to equate FGM with male circumcision, be my guest, but your comments are yet another example of the extreme rhetoric that makes it impossible to have a productive or rational discussion about this issue.

              • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

                Well you’ll have to realize there are fanatics on all sides of all issues, but that does not invalidate their cause at all. I personally find it disgusting that people defend the practice but the issue is THAT language CANNOT be used within the American populus, the same populus that is generally in favor of circumcision. We negatively word female circumcision in our culture because it is no longer part of the culture and is seen as cruel and alien, but our culture views circumcision in a positive light. The extreme rhetoric will come as a shock to the american population and creative a negative notion. For now the language needs to be careful. Intact for example would be a word that would have to be explained delicately – it is the proper wording but some people find its use jarring.

          • Guest

            You can spank me all day if I can get my foreskin back. Spanking isn’t nearly as bad as genital mutilation. I’m so sorry if the subject makes you uncomfortable, think about how uncomfortable it would be if you actually had to go through it! So yes, we are going to continue to talk about it and we’ll continue to be as ‘fanatical’ in opposing it as one would be in opposing any other kind of heinous crime. I know we’re just men and we should shut up but we’re going to talk about it anyway.

    • JKPS

      Honestly, I fail to see how medical support in this case can be irrational, but okay. And your reasoning seems to be “Well it doesn’t bother me so I guess it’s alright or whatever and I don’t like the other side for no particular reason.” Rational? I think not.

    • Lagerbaer

      All this doesn’t change the fact that this is unnecessary elective surgery done without your consent. It doesn’t matter that you, personally, perceive no ill effects from it. It should still be an individuals choice to have or have not this surgery done!

    • marylanser

      “I don’t know what I’m missing”….. wow, it’s amazing how easily some men are able to “settle”…. I bet you own a big screen fancy t.v., have cable or satellite and get a ton of channels to enjoy………and years ago, there were only little black and white t.v.s without cable or satellite that only got a few channels……MAYBE you would be willing to “settle” for the little black and white televisions? I didn’t think so. That’s the thing about NOT knowing what you’re missing….IF you did know, you wouldn’t be so willing to “settle”. I guess it’s a good thing you don’t know what you are missing……being intact as nature intended. The truth is, you ARE permanently altered….whether you are actually “broken”, only time will tell.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

      “…like most circumcised males I don’t know what I’m missing and have had no ill effects from it.”
      It would be more accurate to say that you don’t know what you’re missing and hence have no idea of what ill-effects you (may) have had from it.
      —-
      Errol Morris, the filmmaker, was born with strabismus and subsequently lost almost all the vision in one eye, but feels he gets along perfectly well. “I see things in 3-D,” he said. “I move my head when I need to – parallax is enough. I don’t see the world as a plane.” He joked that he considered stereopsis [3D vision] no more than a “gimmick” and found my interest in it “bizarre.”

      I tried to argue with him, to expatiate on the special character and beauty of stereopsis. But one cannot con­vey to the stereo-blind what stereopsis is like; the sub­jective quality, the quale, of stereopsis is unique and no less remarkable than that of color. However brilliantly a person with monocular vision may function, he or she is, in this one sense, totally lacking.

      With prismatic spectacles and exercises, Sue Barry recovered stereo vision after a lifetime of using her two eyes separately:

      I went back to my car and happened to glance at the steering wheel. It had “popped out” from the dash­board. I closed one eye, then the other, then looked with both eyes again, and the steering wheel looked different. I decided that the light from the setting sun was playing tricks on me and drove home. But the next day I got up, did the eye exercises., and got into the car to drive to work. When I looked at-the rear-view mirror, it had popped out from the windshield.

      Her new vision was “absolutely delightful,” Sue wrote. “I had no idea what I had been missing.”

      - Oliver Sacks, The Mind’s Eye

      What on earth is wrong with “intact”? Just that you’re more used to “uncircumcised” as though “circumcised” was the norm and a complete penis was a deviation from it. (And though I expect you to object even more, “complete penis” is the literal truth and there’s no denying it.)

      She specifically mentioned meatal stenosis and skin bridges:

      BRITISH JOURNAL OF UROLOGY, Volume 75, Number 1: Pages 91-93,
      January 1995.
      Clinical presentation and pathophysiology of meatal stenosis following circumcision.
      Persad R; Sharma S; McTavish J; Imber C; Mouriquand PD

      Traumatic meatitis of the unprotected post-circumcision urethral meatus and/or meatal ischaemia following damage to the frenular artery at circumcision are suggested as possible causes of meatal stenosis.

      Meatal stenosis as a complication is often missed by the clinician because children do not usually have late follow-up after circumcision.
      The symptoms of pain are often mistaken for symptoms of a lower urinary
      tract infection and symptoms of distal urethral impairment of urinary
      flow are usually ignored for many months

      … 88 circumcisions (and 91 preputial plasties) were performed at this institution: seven of these patients (8%) presented with meatal stenosis.

      Skin bridges are less easily quantified, but you can see plenty of pictures of them here – http://www.circumstitions.com/Botched1.html#skinbridge (NSFW), drawn from sources where they were shown without comment, as if they were normal. Rupert Everett and porn “actor” Marcus Iron are public figures known to have skin bridges.

    • AxeGrrl

      what gets to me about the subject is the anti-circumcision crowd is so damn fanatical. They don’t come off rational at all.

      Kindly explain what’s “irrational” about advocating for the personal autonomy of infants who cannot consent to this medically unnecessary procedure being done TO them.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I think you’re reading too much into her wording. “Intact vs Circumcised just means the foreskin…I don’t see anything in her talk that would give it a larger meaning.

    • amycas

      I thought the woman in this article was being very rational and level-headed. “Intact” would be the correct way to put it, as circumsised men are no longer “intact.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/pye.colin Colin Pye

      My “perfectly normal” circumcision was so tight that erections were painful, and sometimes even led to tearing and bleeding. This didn’t seem right to me, so when I did some research, I found out what had been done to me to make things that way. I was not pleased with having had such a “successful” procedure done before I even had a chance to give consent. And no, it wasn’t a big topic of discussion where I went to school, since talking about penises was considered to be “gay”!

      You admit it yourself, you don’t know what you are missing, so you can’t know if you have had no ill effects from it!

      Did you ever notice that there’s no fanatical group opposing eyelid removal? You likely think it a common sense thing, since who in their right mind would remove a child’s eyelids, even if it did dramatically reduce the risk of eyelid cancer, and hey, it’s something less to wash. No doubt it would keep the little ones from blinking too much, as well… don’t these arguments sound familiar?

    • trevor

      If I were to tell a woman, “you’re hot in bed and cool to talk to. But I don’t like looking at your vulva and your pubic hair when I do oral sex on you. Why don’t you shave that hair, and get those unsightly labia trimmed?” I would expect an explosion of feminist rage, and a hard slap across the face. She would throw me out of her house, and tell me never to ring her again. And her reaction would be a totally correct one.

      Hence if I interact sexually with a woman, I am obligated to respect her as she is. I expect the same of the women I interact with. Either they accept in good grace the penis that Mother Nature gave me, or get out of my life.

      No penis is beautiful. Its not its job to look pretty, but to make its owner and his partners FEEL GOOD. There is good reason to believe that it does not fall down on this job. For starters, listen to women who’ve test driven both models.

      I do not defend the way all intactivists write. I am grimly opposed to American RIC, but do not blame the parents who have it done. But I also use “fanaticism” to describe the American compulsion to stamp out part a perfectly natural and highly sexual part of the penis. If this part were unhealthy, a straightforward comparison of urological and STD data from Europe and Japan, with the comparable data from the USA, would be very revealing. In my 30 years as an intactivist, I have yet to read such a comparison.

      There is no good data showing that circumcision is either harmful or harmless. The American medical profession has been enthusiastically chopping off foreskins for over 100 years, but refuses to look at the consequences for adult sexuality. This is an ethical catastrophe. Without a good understanding of the possible adverse consequences, doctors have no business circumcising minors.

    • Dreamer

      There are objective changes to the sexual function of the penis:
      * The skin cannot glide over the glans. This is a mechanical function. When the skin of an uncircumcised man glides over the glans, the glans and the foreskin stimulate each other and produce pleasure, and this happens both during masturbation and sex. This mechanism is destroyed by circumcision.
      * The tip of the foreskin contains a high concentration of Meissner’s corpuscles. This concentration provides sensory function, perceiving “soft touch” in other word,s the subtle elements of sex. This area is always removed by circumcision.
      * Most circumcised men who retain some of their frenulum, find it to be their most sensitive spot. Yet many men had their whole frenulum removed, and even those who didn’t, don’t ever have the whole frenulum (as the frenulum is tethered to the tip of the foreskin, so when you cut it you are also cutting part of the frenulum).
      So with that being said, the circumcised penis is no longer “intact”, sorry if you don’t like the word. It has lost part of its function. It still can be used to have sex and have orgasms, but it’s not the same.

  • Highlander

    My wife wanted to get my son circumcized. I hesitated, but since I hadn’t looked into it one way or another, I consented because she argued she would be more comfortable cleaning and taking care of him. After reading more about it, I wish I hadn’t, I wish I had told her to get over her discomfort and that it wasn’t her penis to alter. It turns out, I’m the one who gives my son baths and teaches him how to keep himself clean so her comfort was immaterial. There is just no good reason to circumcize an infant. I was circumcized myself, and now so is my son. Neither of us will ever know what it is like to be any different.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

      I’m hoping for some sort of stem cell therapy to restore foreskins in my lifetime

      • Dreamer

        Well, non-surgical restoration can at least give you back the mechanics and look of the intact organ.

    • trevor

      You are one of the few people to comment anywhere that Americans circumcise in part because Mom (or Dad) does not want to be reminded of foreskin every time they change Son’s diaper or give him a bath. That could give rise to inappropriate sexual thoughts you see. Could remind Dad of what he is missing, Mom of what’s missing from her marital sex life. Best not to go there, no?

  • Nate Frein

    I really don’t get the whole STI prevention argument. When the child is old enough to engage in behavior that risks STIs, then the child is old enough to choose for himself whether or not to become circumcised.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

      Precisely! (It’s also safer to use anaesthetics on an adult than on an infant)

    • sailor

      Not only that I am not sure how valid it is. When I looked at the African studies that fueled this as far as I could assess from the available reports, was that they were comparing a select group who were both circumcised AND given sex eduction against those that got neither. Talk about two independent variables!

    • http://www.facebook.com/pye.colin Colin Pye

      That whole STI thing is problematic from another side… if sex isn’t as pleasurable, it’s not as likely to happen, or so I’d expect. So, given that alone, it would be interesting to see frequency of sex between circumcised and intact males in the survey. If the intact group has sex 1% more often, and their STI rate is 0.000043% higher, then the circumcised group is much more likely to get a STI per incident!

      (these numbers are just here as an example, I’ve not found research to support or discredit this hypothesis, and that lack of information itself feels strangely telling)

    • cosmopolite

      RIC is predicated on the unspoken assumption that young men won’t given up their foreskins, no matter how “healthier” it is to do so, because the foreskin is too much fun. I once read a rabbi argue in this wise. In sum, parents are entitled to have their sons foreskins removed, because a man cannot be trusted to make that choice. This is, of course, savagely patronising and authoritarian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

    This is an important issue to me. Thank you for posting it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    My main objection with male circumcision is philosophical: humans desperate to pretend we’re not the animals we are. My secondary objection, mostly to religious circumcision, is that it forces a decision on a child–like baptism, except it actually has an effect on the person. That said, I agree with some of the commenters below that many opponents of the practice with whom I’ve interacted come across as off-putting, but this might be because I tend to interact with them on the Internet.

  • Beth

    We had our oldest circumcised and, at 3 year old, he has a skin bridge that will have to be taken care of later in his life. Welcome to the world buddy, We are cutting your penis and it is going to cause you problems later in life.
    We didn’t cut our second son and the doctor went a little nuts! He told me over and over again (before I left the hospital) that my son would have increased risk of UTI, that if I waited he would have to be under anesthesia. He implored my husband. We like this guy a lot, he does a great job with the kids, but hey man…I said keep your hands off my kids c*ck, I understand that there is a risk, but its not like I don’t bathe the kid!

    • Agrajag

      That’s the part that seems so odd to me. I mean, that most people do what most people do, in essence going with the stream, following the path of least resistance, doing what seems normal, is understandable. That’s how human beings tend to work.

      But -doctors- are educated on health, they’re supposed to give advice based on actual scientific findings on health. And those do not differ between USA and Scandinavia – so there’s no rationale for the doctors in USA giving advice that differs from the advice given here.

      Makes you wonder what other procedures doctors argue for – or against, based more on cultural norms than on actual scientific evidence.

    • Randay

      There may be another reason why doctors are so insistent on performing circumcision. Parents probably don’t ask to keep the foreskin and think it is just thrown away, as most of us. That is not the case. There is a lucrative market for foreskins. They are sold for use in beauty products like SkinMedica advertized by Oprah, used in medical research, and in certain medical procedures . It is called foreskin fibroblast.

      One of the aspects of it is that it can be used to generate more skin for many years and ultimately profits of tens of thousands of dollars. So the doctors, or clinics, or hospitals have a financial interest in collecting foreskins and selling or using them. An Alternet article ‘Foreskin Face Cream and Future Beauty Products’ from February 9, 2007 gives more info.

      This an ethical issue of organ trafficking and an obvious conflict of interest. The parents of course don’t get anything from this flesh of their flesh. The first question to ask a doctor who wants to perform a circumcision is what he plans to do with the foreskin.

      • Dreamer

        The consent form often has this gem: “I authorize the hospital to discard, maintain or use the removed organs or tissues as they see fit, including for research purposes”. Those research purposes involve the biotechnology industry, and the tissue is often “donated” or exchanged for a fee to cover the cost of “recovery” of the tissue before being exploited commercially.

    • Brad Thompson

      Congratulations on realizing you made a mistake and correcting it, in as much as possible.

      Tell the doctor he’s a piece of shit, BECAUSE HE IS, and he doesn’t know shit about anything.

  • Toth

    As an intact male, I really want circumcision to not be medically beneficial. I really want to believe that Ms. Wax is correct. But I’m perturbed by the fact that, to the minor amount of research I’ve done, several health organizations (including the WHO, I believe) say it is, and few, if any, come out against it. It’s all too easy to attribute it to them being beholden to cultural norms or taboos against countering religious beliefs, but I’m not aware of these organizations having any sort of history of caving into pressures like that, so I don’t think it would be fair to accuse them of that now.

    I want to agree, but it’s hard to ignore the weight of many expert opinions.

    • Ders

      Please cite. The other guy saying this wouldn’t. Also it may be beneficial for someone in say Africa, where hygiene can be problematic and AIDS risk is insanely high. In Europe this does not seem to be problematic.

    • Gus Snarp

      I posted this below as well, but I think it’s a reasonably fair review of evidence (not that I’m an expert or have read the whole paper, but the authors do not come off as advocates one way or another). There are benefits. But as Ms. Wax says, they are small. I would note a couple of statistics: the risk of UTI appears to be no greater, and perhaps smaller, than the rate of complications from circumcisions. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11732129

    • Michael

      I have yet to see a study that compared circumcised and uncircumcised men who were equally sexually active. Anecdotes of circumcision making sex less enjoyable are plentiful, the fact that people who like sex more get more STDs shouldn’t need explanation, but I’ve not seen it addressed anywhere.

      • William

        No, people who have unprotected sex get STI’s more, regardless of circumcision. And seeing as circumcision reduces over all sexual sensation, it generally makes the idea of condoms not so readily considered. Theoretically, it can lead to an increase in STI rates because of that fact.

      • trevor

        We agree that the adult sexual and medical consequences of routine infant circumcision have not been studied properly or even at all. We also do not know how circumcision status interacts with the willingness to use condoms. If circumcised men are more resistant to condoms, then the prophylactic benefits of circumcision go out the window, esp. over longer time frames.

        Two raw facts.
        1. The western countries with the highest HIV rates are the USA and Portugal. Injectable drugs are de facto legal in Portugal.
        2. In the 1980s and 90s, a quarter million American and Canadian gay men died of AIDS. A large majority of these men were circumcised.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Locuta-de-Bjorg/100002398034010 Locuta de Bjorg

      Always follow the money. The organizations support male “medical” circumcision all have a stake in the game — money from selling single-use circumcision devices to corrupt African governments or the dogma of pro-circumcision doctors who need validation. The American for-profit medical industry is for it, of course because it is something easy they can bill insurance for. Medical orgs from countries with socialized not-for-profit medicine are against it and say it has no benefits and/or it is not recommended.

      • amycas

        I’m against male circumcision, bu this line of reasoning sounds remarkable similar to the anti-vaxx conspiracy theories…

        • Dreamer

          Not really when you look at it deeply. Per the American Medical Association, “nearly 350 commercial biotechnology firms in the United States are actively engaged in the commercial development of biotechnology products, approximately 25-30% of which have diagnostic or therapeutic applications.4 Most of these products are derived from human tissue. Overall, the total number of patent applications filed on such products tripled between 1980 and 1984, as compared to the previous five years.5 Universities, researchers, and commercial firms that specialize in biotechnology all have benefited from the development of cell-lines derived from human tissue”

          “This rapid growth of the biotechnology industry has resulted in the commercial availability of numerous therapeutic products developed from human tissue, including, for example, alpha interferon (for hairy-cell leukemia), human insulin (for diabetes mellitus), human growth hormone (for growth retardation associated with pituitary function), hepatitis B vaccine (to confer immunity against the hepatitis B virus), monoclonal antibody OKT-3 (for acute renal transplant rejection), erythropoetin EPO (for chronic kidney failure), and tissue plasminogen activator (for vascular thrombosis), as well as 150 monoclonal antibodies for diagnostic testing purposes.6″ http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/code-medical-ethics/208a.pdf
          Guess which is one of the favorite kinds of tissue used by these companies? One that they can easily reprogram as stem cells and turn into any other kind of cells later?
          Did I hear, neonatal foreskin? Bingo!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

      The WHO has said nothing about infant circumcision. It recommends circumcision to prevent female-male HIV transmission only for adult volunteers. That has been subverted in the field to infant circumcision, when men proved reluctant, without a smidgin of evidenced that infant circumcision has any effect on HIV. The recommendation followed an invitation-only, closed-door meeting (whose membership has never been disclosed) in Monteux, Switzerland in 2007 that was reportedly a rubber-stamp affair. A detailed handbook for doing circumcisions emerged suspiciously soon after.

      The HIV claim is based on three trials: in which the control and experimental arms were given differing safe-sex advice; that were terminated early (call it “stopping while you’re ahead); and from which several times as many circumcised men dropped out, their HIV status unknown, as the number of non-circumcised men in the control groups who contracted HIV. Thus their results could be completely spurious.

      All the recent research supporting circumcision has emanated from a small networK of interconnected people – Robert Bailey, Stefan Bailis, Ronald Gray, Daniel Halperin, Godfrey Kigozi, Jeffrey Klausner, Brian Morris, Stephen Moses, Malcolm Potts, Thomas Quinn, David Serwadda, Dirk Taljaard, Aaron Tobian, Maria Wawer, Jake Waskett, Helen Weiss. They spend all their time (and make their living) by promoting circumcision. Some have indicated mixed and unscientific motives (Halperin thinks he was “destined” to promote circumcision.)

    • Stev84

      There might be some small medical benefits. But even in the studies that show benefits they are tiny and not really worth the effort. They don’t justify the risks associated with it.

      • Toth

        So why is it that the WHO, and pediatric associations in America (at least) don’t seem to agree?

        • trevor

          We humans often do not agree on topics that are intensely sexual. Circumcision is intensely sexual, because it is a material alteration of the most sexual part of the male body, the tip of the penis. Circumcision also removes a structure that interacts directly with a woman’s fingers during foreplay, and with her vaginal wall during penetration. You can’t get more sexual. There are tumblr blogs by women foreskin fetishists. The gay male community has had its fair share of foreskin fetishists for decades.
          I sneer at Freudian reasoning. But I also grant that circumcision is the sort of sexual obsession that Freudian theory was designed to address.
          My bottom line is that because circumcision is very sexual, *I am not surprised that it is also very controversial.

        • Dreamer

          The AAP has a vested interest in maintaining a cultural practice, and is currently using the fear of HIV and the African studies to try to justify neonatal circumcision – which doesn’t make sense. There are deeper reasons why the AAP is in general pro-circumcision, including religious bias (which can be noticed when you check who were the members of the task force that wrote the recent policy statement) and cultural bias to maintain a status quo. There are also economic arguments. 1.2 million neonatal circumcisions per year represent a good amount of money, add to that the work that pediatric urologists do to correct circumcision problems in children (like skin bridges, buried penis, recircumcision due to “too little skin removed”, fixing meatal stenosis, etc…) and the interest of the biomedical industry in maintaining a supply of human tissue for research and development of products.

          As for the WHO, this was the result of a small group of researchers, most of them Americans (and as you can notice, their work is used to justify American neonatal circumcisions based on the most recent AAP statement…. vicious circle). The problem with these researchers is that they are not willing to discuss the methodology and data of their studies, which have been subject of several deep critiques, but yet were enough to convince the WHO. And obviously there are conflicting interests, when for example the WHO’s expert on circumcision happens to be a business person who developed a single use circumcision device, the prospect of selling several millions of those devices is not a bad thing for his company, is it? Ahem, ACCU-CIRC and PrePex.

        • Dreamer

          Also, notice that the benefits touted by the WHO (risk reduction of HIV) applies to adults, not to minors. An adult is capable of making decisions: “am I going to be promiscuous or not, am I going to practice safe sex or not”, so in the best case, even if the benefit mentioned by the WHO was such, a man could take the decision based on understanding of his own lifestyle. Like they are being asked to do right now.
          Also notice how the AAP downplays the actual risks and harm of circumcision, finally stating in their report that “the real incidence of complications is unknown”. But most people don’t read the whole report.
          When there are risks, some of which are so severe that they can harm the child’s future sexual life completely, taking that chance for a minor reduction on the risk of UTIs, or for future sexual risks, becomes irresponsible and invasive. But the AAP is not going to tell you that, at least not yet.

        • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

          The WHO is a conglamerate not a medical organization in and of itself. The only medical organization that defends infant circumcision is the AAP – every other health organization discussing infant male circumcision views it in distaste and the results are not conclusive. These organizations have called to ban the procedure (Sweden, Netherlands, Saskechewan). The US wants to defend cultural practices and as the AAP statement directly stated circumcision has a direct monetary benefit. Let’s think about Indonesia or regions in East Africa – the vehemently defend female hoodectomies as beneficial and have medicalized the practice.
          As far as the AAP don’t agree with them. In their assesment they said the foreskin is supposed to have seperated from the glans by 2-3 months of age when it’s known the median age of this foreskin seperation occurs roughly around 10 years of age. They never even went into the details and function of the foreskin. Look into the assessments of medical organizations outside of the US where they have low rates of circumcision and better standards of health.

    • trevor

      Nearly all studies claiming that circumcision has prophylactic benefits are based on Third World subjects, living on conditions that are irrelevant to people living around the North Atlantic. The WHO and UNAIDS only endorsed voluntary circumcision performed on teens and grown men living in countries where HIV is rampant. When Brian Morris and the AAP conclude that this research supports the circumcision of American and Australian infants, that is an invalid leap of faith.

      The African clinical trials were badly designed and badly executed. On this, see
      http://www.salem-news.com/fms/pdf/2011-12_JLM-Boyle-Hill.pdf
      Those trials have also been badly misinterpreted. All they claimed is that circumcised men were less likely to catch HIV from unprotected sex with infected women. It is widely recognised that circumcision does not protect gay men from HIV. If circumcised men are more likely to indulge in unprotected sex, then circumcision is useless. The African clinical trials cannot rule out this possibility, because they were cut short after only 18 months. I predict that in 20 years, it will be admitted that all circumcision can achieve in Africa is to delay the inevitable. Finally, look up “risk compensation” in Wikipedia.

    • Dave

      As an intact male you don’t know how lucky you are.

  • Nate Frein

    Conspirator,

    Your whole line of argument seems to be “I was circumcised and I turned out okay, and everyone does it so what’s the problem?”.

    I went to a school where prayer was led by teachers every morning. I turned out okay. I don’t know what I would have missed if I’d gone to a school where prayer wasn’t led every morning. Is it therefore wrong to campaign strongly against prayer in schools?

  • http://www.facebook.com/autumnsfantasy Jennifer Anker

    Considering how often, it’s the mother of the infant making the decision for circumcision, it is highly important that women be in on the conversation.

    • tIM

      if it is often the mother making bad decisions for the child, maybe they should be less involved in the decision.

      • amycas

        It might have something to do with the fact that the mother is most often the parent making decisions (medical, nutrition, schooling etc) for the child, so there’s a higher probability of her making a wrong choice at some point. I don’t beat up on the parents so much as get annoyed with the doctors who push it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

    One tiny correction. When Ms Wax says: “There is a reduction in the likelihood of UTIs and penile cancer such that your risk drops from already-infinitesimal to slightly-less-than-infinitesimal.” she means “to even more infinitesimal”. It would take scores of circumcisions to prevent one UTI, thousands to prevent on cancer.

    Both the UTI claim and the cancer claim are disputed. While UTIs are a childhood condition (about three times worse in girls than boys) the already-low risk drops after a year, so cutting part off forever is overkill. Penile cancer on the other hand is a very rare end-of-life condition (median age of onset 68) and even the AAP admits that it is an abnormal (phimotic) foreskin that is the risk factor, while a normal foreskin seems to be protective.

    If only Francelle’s namesake Ruby Wax were as well-informed on the topic! She’d have circumcision laughed off the stage within a year. Imagine it: ‘You want to cut off his WHAT?’

    • Gus Snarp

      Which reminds me: When I was looking through the literature for a comprehensive review, I found a paper from Kaiser Permanente looking at it from a cost basis. It said circumcision is a great cost saving measure because a hospital admission of a male infant for a UTI can cost $500-$1000. I admit to reading only the abstract, but doesn’t it seem like they should have compared that to the cost of circumcision? I was billed $2,000 for circumcision for my son, before we politely explained that we would be happy to show them his foreskin, still attached, if that was required to have the charge removed. Let’s say there’s a lot of inflation of numbers by the hospital in billing and that the appropriate cost to compare is 25% of the billed cost, so $500. Now lets take the figure of 80 circumcisions to prevent 1 UTI from the literature and further assume that every one of those UTIs is a $1000 hospital admission. These assumptions seem entirely generous to the side of circumcision being a cost saving. But from a pure cost basis, we still come up with spending $40,000 on circumcisions to prevent $1,000 in UTI treatment. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I don’t see how that’s a cost saving…

      • Randay

        Most of the discussion has been about risks of non-circumcision and little about the risks of circumcision. According to the AMA, UTI infections in uncircumcised infants is 0.4 to 1%. Complications from circumcision are 0.2 to 0.6%. Some of those complications can be very serious even leading to meningitis or a second operation to remove the whole penis. The medical sequels of the two cases are not much different. AMA says, “One model of decision analysis concluded that the incidence of UTI would
        have to be substantially higher in uncircumcised males to justify
        circumcision as a preventive measure against this condition.”

  • Ian

    I’m one of those Brits who’d laugh you out of the pub, I’m afraid.

    I’ve a friend who grew up with four fingers on her left hand. She doesn’t miss her pinky, and I’d challenge you to find an activity that she couldn’t do perfectly well (including awesome piano playing). Yet it seems pretty obvious that if she decided her kids looked better without a pinky and should have it surgically removed, we’d be looking to take her kids into a safer home.

    This is not a tough issue, or a close debate, or something we need more research on. It is *very* simple.

    You do not conduct surgery on anyone that isn’t medically necessary, without their informed consent.

    It baffles me how anyone can think this is in any way negotiable.

    • Agrajag

      *especially* not surgery that can — should the child so wish — be done at a later date when the child can make a informed choice by itself.

    • amycas

      Good point. I always like to ask people if it would be acceptable for me to cut off my infant’s ear lobes. After all, they seem to serve no real purpose. Why shouldn’t I cut them off? They won’t miss them, right?

    • cosmopolite

      American apologists for RIC retort that is completely common garden for parents to authorise medical procedures “in the best interests of the child”. In 2012, the trade association of American paediatricians released a long and biased and illogical literature review that amounted to a massive propaganda defence of American compulsive circumcision. The report was massively dishonest about the sexual and other downside of circumcision. 38 European medical school professors signed a letter condemning the AAP’s report, but that condemnation dwelled on a matter that doctors are not expert in, namely “cultural bias”, and overlooked a number of flaws in the AAP Report that most definitely come under the remit of allopathic medicine. At the heart of this lies a grave American misunderstanding of how nature expects sex to work. This misunderstanding is perpetrated by middle aged circumcised men and their wives. To my knowledge, no American medical school professors has ever sat down and had a long and frank conversation with one or more sexually experienced women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tophermurphy Chrisofer Herby

    Funny after reading this I’m leaning more heavily in the pro-circumcision camp. Really think this article is a disservice understating Urinary Tract Infection, STD and smegma.

    I like my penis cut. Neat, clean, no infections. Sex is great. I don’t feel like a mutilated or less of a man. In fact, I’m insulted at the implication.

    As for a child, it is silly to think that it isn’t the parents responsibility to make such decisions. I respect each persons decision for their own child. People who circumcise their children are not baby mutilating monsters.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Locuta-de-Bjorg/100002398034010 Locuta de Bjorg

      you sound like you were already in the pro-circumcision camp and found some rather out-to-lunch excuses to stay there. UTIs, STDs and “smegma” are all nonsensical rationalization for performing a genital mutilation on children who cannot consent or defend themselves. The interview pointed out why these excuses are nonsensical. Why would anyone think for a moment that parents have some sort of “right” or responsibility to have part of their child’s body cut off? The only reasons are social conditioning and marketing of circumcision as having “health benefits” that do not actually exist.

      You may not feel that you are mutilated, which is a common perception of the victims of child genital cutting, but the physiology is clear: your circumcised dick does not function normally, any more than a foot without its toes can work normally. You may think it is great, but you have no comparison. Lots of women who have made the comparison on the receiving end do know the difference: the whole enchilada gives them more pleasure.

      Oh, one more thing ladies: if a man is not capable of washing his penis, don’t have sex with him!

    • sonja

      Yeah! Let’s cut him so he doesn’t need antibiotics, to use a condom or to ever have a shower!

    • Stev84

      And yet there is no rampant UTI epidemic in other countries. How come?

    • Conuly

      Women produce smegma as well. It’s a lubricant for sexual activity, helping make penetration more comfortable and pleasurable.

    • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

      Can you elaborate exactly what smegma is ? Can you identify which gender accumulates smegma ? .. I’m guessing no. And cleanliness and lack of infection are maintained by regular bathing – let’s look at it this way humans have been around roughly 200,000 years and until recently we never had substantial running water or hygienic knowledge. My we’ve done well for a species with foreskin – an anatomical feature you suggest is detrimental to health. As far as STD’s go – lets look at this simple fact. The United States with the highest rates of infant circumcision in the First World interestingly enough has the highest rate of HIV and STD contraction when compared to other First World Nations which nearly all are non-circumcising locales. And you are right , parents who make this decision are not monsters because more than likely they were never well informed about the lack of necessity when it comes to circumcision or the fact that the procedure isn’t done much elsewhere besides those of certain religious and cultural backgrounds. Now your emotion clearly indicates your pro-circumcision stance – you’re offended of the fact that a rather valuable organ (the foreskin is a sexual organ in its own right considering it has 20,000 fine-touch nerve endings) was taken and offended with the notion that their is something inherently wrong with the procedure. To admit that you’d have to come to the conclusion something is inherently wrong with the state of your penis (which there isn’t). You’re defending the practice therefore defending your circumcision status and using language that denotes you feel some sort of superiority in being circumcised. You are now in the pro-circumcision camp because you were already in the pro-circumcision camp.

  • Free Thinker

    Thank you for posting about this! As a mother expecting boys I did some research and decided not to circ my sons. They are now 5 and we have had no problems. If a baby girl gets a UTI, we give her an antibiotic. There is no talk of cutting off body parts to prevent an easily treated infection. This arguement to me is silly and easily dismissed. It sounds like proponents of circing are over-reaching to find reasons to circ. For the STIs, I’m planning to teach my children to use condoms. I can’t imagine anyone saying “Hey son, you are circed so you can skip the condom each time” and there are plenty of circed men who get infections each year. Again, a silly arguement. If at 25 my son wants to get circed, he has that choice, I did not make it for him. I find it odd that so many parents are comfortable making that decison for their child.

  • ml66uk

    Fortunately this bizarre practice is on the decline.
    Drops in male circumcision since 1950:
    USA: from 90% to 55%
    Canada: from 48% to 17%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (about 1-2% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.4% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

    • trevor

      More and more European countries have circumcision rates around 5-15%, because of a growing Muslim minority and high birth rates among Muslims. These circumcisions are often performed after infancy; the Islamic requirement is that it be done before puberty begins. The growing prevalence of Islamic and African tribal circumcisions are the main reason why European intactivism exists.
      I am proud of the fact that my country, New Zealand, furiously circumcised 1-2 generations ago, and has pretty much completely given up the practice. This change was purely doctor-led, and occurred in complete silence. New Zealand intactivism consists almost entirely of support for the USA struggle.

  • Sven2547

    The STI aspect of this is particularly baffling to me: is your infant son going to have sex with anyone? No? Then STI prevention is not a sensible reason to circumcise an infant.
    Once he’s old enough to decide to have sex, he’ll be old enough to decide whether he wants a circumcision.

  • Nick

    It took a lot of conversation, but I convinced my wife that circumcision was wrong for our son. He’s almost 3 months old now, and he’s the happiest little baby, We wash that area along with the rest of him during bath time, not a big deal, and my wife has no regrets about it, I don’t think I’m gonna win the discussion about having him dedicated at her church though. (She’s Methodist), as an atheist, I really don’t see the point.

    • Dave

      Just remember that religion is a patriarchal conspiracy against women and that as a man you’re to blame. Even though you’re an atheist and your wife is the religious one, and women are more religious in general.

      • Vinnie

        “as a man you’re to blame.” Yes because Nick here is the creator of all of those religions that were around way before he was born. Please pull your head out of your ass.

  • The Other Weirdo

    All I got from this is that Francelle has apparently not watched any non-American porn.

  • TLCTugger

    What spectacular good fortune that someone so talented would use her gift to spread this vital message. I can’t wait to see the impact this film makes on an infant’s basic human right to be left intact.

  • Rich Gray

    “Hemant: Do you think we can really convince parents that what they’re doing is wrong? Is the trend reversing direction?”

    I have convinced several sets of parents to not circumcise their next child, and have convinced more than a few expecting parents that their ideas on getting their child circumcised were wrong. It’s an issue of education really. When you present someone with the facts on the issue, it’s really hard to come down on the side of getting a child circumcised. The response is always the same “Wow, I never even knew it was an issue” Male circumcision is rarely talked about in a negative light in the US.

  • IDA KNOWN

    “For those with access to soap and water, hygiene is not a concern. ” Youre talking about men right??? yeah sorry men ARE pigs so yes cut IS cleaner- just is. doesnt make circumcision right, but cut is cleaner

    • Dreamer

      Oh wow. How do you keep your lady bits Ida? Penile hygiene is quite simple actually. On an intact boy, parents need to do nothing except to make sure he takes a bath. No special care. Upon becoming able to retract (usually during or after puberty), a quick retract, rinse, replace is all it takes. And what man doesn’t greet his little friend in the shower every day?

    • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

      Either this was a massive commentary on cutting cultures through a form of satire or you’re a sexist pig. If the latter is the case then you ma’am are the pig – how does Lady Gaga’s lyric go ? “You’re just a pig inside a human body.” Men particularly little boys have absolutely no problem with touching their genitals in the shower/bathe. Instill a sense of personal pride and hygiene in your sons and they will never face such an issue. Your comment is quite disgusting. Certainly there are men AND women who are pigs but to say men are ALL pigs is a sexist statement, and what’s even more atrocious is you promote genital cutting that has potential adverse effects rather than promoting boys and men to take responsibility and shower. Your statement directly mirrors cultures which defend female circumcision (most cultures remove the clitoral hood – not as graphic or bloody as most will like to paint it in an effort to derail efforts concerning male circumcision) and claim it has hygienic benefits. There are no studies claiming such an erroneous statement in relation to hygiene and male circumcision status – such a claim is a remnant from the Victorian era which stated circumcision provided MORAL cleanliness and the turn of the century that linked foreskin with the wave of poor European immigrants who usually had little access to clean water, were poor, or classist/racist notions against them existed and were perpetuated by the American upper class.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not anti-circumcision or anything, but growing up in America and not being circumcised I definitely felt like an outcast. Whenever friends brought it up I would just lie and say I was. Sometimes I would hear girls talking about it as gross and disgusting. Those kind of things just made it impossible for me to ever have a relationship for fear of being seen as dirty and ugly. I just wish people would not insult others bodies whether they be circumcised or not.

    • Dreamer

      They shouldn’t insult others. Shaming is just like bullying, and it’s one of the reasons that circumcision has remained prevalent in the U.S.
      I have a friend who was in your same shoes. Growing up intact he resented his parents for not having circumcised him, as “all Americans were circumcised”, or at least that’s what he heard in middle school. He became involved in pro-circumcision groups to research, thinking of getting circumcised later. And through those groups, he heard of those “anti circ” groups that wanted to take away the parental right to circumcise babies. He was curious what was wrong with those people, why they wanted to take parents rights away, and he started researching. Today he is strongly opposed to circumcision, and needless to say he kept his body intact.

    • Dave

      Anti-circumcision is pro-bodily integrity, pro-human rights.

  • http://AmericanSecret-TheMovie.com/ AmericanSecret

    The film’s Kickstarter campaign launched a few hours ago http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/coldhardlook/american-secret-the-circumcision-agenda Thanks in advance for watching and spreading the word. -Francelle, for “American Secret”

  • Gordius Knot

    Francelle, being a Jewess perhaps you could take an informal sub rosa survey of other Jewish women. I’ve often wondered how sexually satisfied these women really are, copulating with their circumcised husbands. Do they have orgasms during their lovemaking sessions? As frequently as those women who have husbands with foreskins? I have never heard of or read about “Great Jewish Lovers”. I don’t see how any man could ever be deemed a good lover without his prepuce. And from what I’ve read (in these Jewish gals’ blogs) when she reaches menopause, her chief complaint is when her husband wants sex, she is just “too dry”. Ultimately they become sexually estranged. Many divorce… I ask because, “dryness” is usually not an issue for the couple where the man is still au naturel. Just curious…


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